Looking for places to take your elderly loved one for a walk and some fresh air? Here we look at five lovely ponds around north Hampshire where you can feed the ducks.
Such a classic English past-time, isn’t it? Warm or chilly, wet or dry, just dress appropriately and get out there, breathe in the fresh air and have a quacking good time!
We are so fortunate that the Basingstoke area has a great network of rivers, canals and ponds. And our happy ducks will never grow up…. because they always grow down!
Here are just five of the many places where you can go to watch and maybe feed our feathered friends.
The pub has its own lake that’s home to ducks, swans and geese – and even, reportedly, otters. From its large covered outdoor seating area you can enjoy a cuppa or have a bite to eat while listening to the mallards quacking as they paddle about in the water.
You might even see the graceful swans gliding by too – when we visited there were several cygnets, cruising comfortably close to their mums.
From the pub’s riverside patio and garden, you can cross the bridge and take a picturesque walk along the river bank.
A level, gravelled riverside path leads you right through to the ruins of Basing House, via the grand old Grade 1 listed Tudor Tithe Barn and Stables, so allow extra time to become absorbed in the rich history that surrounds this area.
As if all this wasn’t enough, the Mill Field Local Nature Reserve is right behind Barton’s Mill. There’s a lovely play area for the kids and loads more level walking paths to explore.
Spoilt for choice!
Bartons Mill is off Bartons Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke RG24 8AE
Black Dam Ponds are surprisingly tranquil considering their location, nuzzled between the M3 and the busy Basingstoke ring road.
Classified in 1972 as a nature reserve, this is a scenic venue with a variety of ducks, swans, geese and other waterfowl sharing the waters and waiting for you to throw them some food.
Take an easy stroll around the ponds and admire the pretty cascades, flora and fauna on your way.
While you’re here, keep an eye open for the heron and kingfisher. If you’re really lucky, you might even spot a water vole scurrying around by the banks.
There are plenty of benches dotted about at Black Dam Ponds, but no cafe (which also means no bill to pay) so pack yourself a picnic, take a seat and just relax while watching the wildlife.
If you’re feeling energetic you could walk through the underpass, to the bottom of Crabtree Plantation where,on a breezy day, the “let’s go fly a kite” brigade may be out en masse.
There’s also a play area here for kids.
Black Dam Ponds can be found off Black Dam Way, Basingstoke RG21 3QX
Conveniently situated in the centre of Basingstoke, Eastrop Park has beautiful gardens, a padding pool, a large boating lake, and a good sized balancing pond which is home to dozens of dabbling ducks sharing their water with model boat enthusiasts
Sit on one of the surrounding benches and listen to the ducks squabbling over food while you admire the wonderfully detailed model boats being skilfully controlled by their owner enthusiasts.
If you like model boats, bring your binoculars… or just go and chat to the owners!
There is a seasonal café next to the boating lake, selling light refreshments and ice cream.
Opposite the café is a large play area for the kids.
Eastrop Park can be found off Eastrop Way, Basingstoke RG21 4QE
If the feather forecast is good, and you have a cleanbillof health, why not get up at thequack of dawn and head on down to the beautiful village green at Sherfield on Loddon, which is designated as part of the Sherfield on Loddon Conservation Area.
Take the weight off your feet, while you feed the endearing ducks and moor hens, who swim happily in the pond at this serene village beauty spot.
Sometimes our feathered friends waddle over the road for a quick splash in the plantation pond opposite. There is a viewing platform here for you to observe the wildlife below.
Level gravelled paths lead around the green, where cricket and football matches are often played. There is also a good play area for the kids.
The highly acclaimed Coffee Shop at the post office is just a couple of hundred yards down the road – a great retreat for a cuppa and a slice of cake.
Sherfield on Loddon Village Green can be found at Sherfield on Loddon, Hook RG27 0BU
Whitchurch Silk Mill is the oldest working silk mill in England, and still uses its 19th century machinery to produce silk cloths and garments. This gem of industrial heritage is situated on the River Test, creating a beautiful riverside venue in the heart of Hampshire’s smallest town, Whitchurch.
So, get all your ducks in a row and visit the Silk Mill and adjacent ponds. If the weather turns fowl, take a tour of the mill or just retreat to the mill’s Riverside Cafe, which is accessible and overlooks the picturesque duck pond; carers get free entry to the mill but no entry fee is required just to get to the café. Here you can order a hot or cold drink, a light lunch or a range of yummy cakes.
And they sell duck food! No wise quacks! There is a duck feeding area with several benches and tables to sit at. After you’ve had a cuppa and fed the very tame ducks, why not walk up to the bridge and look down on the many trout swimming in the river below.
Moving on from the mill, there is path that runs down the side of the Gill Nethercott Centre and leads to a small viewing platform just a short way along the stream.
Whitchurch Silk Mill can be found at 28 Winchester Street, Whitchurch RG28 7AL,
There are some wonderfully peaceful pond and river settings around Basingstoke and the surrounding villages where you can relax, have a gentle stroll and enjoy the wildlife. If you don’t have conventional duck food to hand, you can offer them bread – wholegrain if possible, but please make sure it’s not mouldy as this can make ducks quite sick.
Has this sparked an interest in learning more about the types of ducks and other wildfowl? This RSPB guide might useful.
Alternatively, for some lighter reading how about 10 Fun Facts About Ducks.
Would your elderly friend or relative like more support to help them continue to live independently in their own home? We could continue your good work by providing companionship at home, help around the house or outings to nearby locations, and if needed we can also help personal care.
For more information about how our Basingstoke team could help please give us a ring on 01256 840 660 or email us on [email protected]