Exploring Top Lodge, Fineshade Woods

Walking through Fineshade Woods

Walking through Fineshade Woods.

Fineshade Woods is one of our favourite places to go walking in this area. Before Little Miss, we did quite a lot of walking, usually starting in Duddington or Kings Cliffe and cutting through Fineshade Woods. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place with lots of chances to spot wildlife.

Ancient beech tree at Fineshade Woods

Ancient beech tree at Fineshade Woods on a previous visit in 2006.

There’s a very successful red kite breeding programme in the woods, so it’s quite common to see red kites overhead when visiting. Parts of the forest are also very old, and there are a few ‘ancient’ trees, like this beech tree (right) in the east corner of the woods.

And now we have discovered that it’s a fantastic place to take kids. It’s very family-orientated with buggy-friendly paths, good facilities in the café and two great playgrounds.

What can you do at Fineshade Woods?

To coin a cliché; ‘there’s something for everyone’. There are a number of waymarked walking trails – the yellow one (Smelters Walk) is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs, but we have taken our buggy on some of the others as well – it’s just a bit rough in places.

Many of the trails in Fineshade Woods also connect up with other public footpaths, including one of the long-distance paths, the Jurassic Way. So if you are looking for a longer walk, using Top Lodge as your base, there are plenty of options.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can cycle around the woods, either bring your own bike, or hire one from Fineshade Cycling. Adults’ bike hire starts from £7.99 for two hours, and kids’ bikes from £6.99 for two hours. You can hire buggies (to go behind your your bike for toddlers) and child seats. There is also a fortnightly ‘Mums and Tots’ ride on Friday mornings at 10am, where you can hire a bike and bike seat for just £5. See the Rutland Cycling website for more information.

Playground at Fineshade Woods

Playground at Fineshade Woods – ideal for the little ones.

And then there are the two playgrounds. There’s one just by the café/visitor centre, suitable for smaller children. And a bigger one (the Tree House) in the woods, out the back of the car park – more suitable for kids 6 years and over. They are both brilliant. Little Miss loves playing in the one by the café. There is a rope hammock, a little wooden tepee, where Little Miss likes to serve up cups of tea, a little house with a slide, stepping stones and balance beams. Hours of fun if you are 2-years old!

I can’t wait until Little Miss is old enough to try the Tree House playground. It looks like a lot of fun, with the tree house about 6ft from the ground with lots of ropes and ladders to negotiate. To be fair, I can’t wait to try it myself!

There are quite a lot of events at Fineshade Woods throughout the year. The Stamford Artisans Guild hold craft fairs the first Sunday of every month, starting in April, in the barn around the courtyard. See the Fineshade Woods Facebook page for details on more upcoming events.

Gruffalo trail at Fineshade Woods

There’s a great little Gruffalo trail at Fineshade until the end of September. Read my recent post about the Gruffalo trail.

All the important bits

Location

Top Lodge, Fineshade Woods is located just off the A43 between Stamford and Corby. Follow the brown tourist signs for ‘Top Lodge Fineshade Wood’. The postcode for sat nav is NN17 3BB.

Car parking

There is plenty of car parking available. The main car park is directly behind the visitor centre, just go straight through when you arrive with the buildings on your right. There is a bigger car park to the left, which is mainly used for coaches and horse boxes, but also can be used for cars. All car parking costs £1 for an hour, or £3 for the day.

Eating and drinking

We’ve eaten quite a few times at the Top Lodge Café. The food is really good and reasonably priced. You can get light bites, like paninis, toasted sandwiches and soup. And there is usually a good selection of cakes and slices as well, although we have been there on a busy Saturday afternoon and there was nothing left at 4pm. There is seating indoors and in the courtyard. You can also bring your own food and eat in the courtyard, or around the woods.

There are highchairs and staff will warm bottles for you.

Facilities

There are toilets in the visitor centre with baby changing facilities in both men’s and women’s toilets.

Many of the paths are buggy-friendly, particularly the yellow waymarked trail.

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2 comments

  1. Excellent write up,thank you for the positive feedback. The cafe does get very busy but if there is something you would like, please ask. Sandwiches can be made to order and we always have a running supply of cakes and snacks.
    Thank you
    Matt Cleathero, general manager, Top Lodge Café.

    1. Thanks Matt. That’s really good to know. Last time I really did enjoy the sausage and cheese toastie!

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