Free things to do around Maidenhead
I have lived in Maidenhead for twelve years now and there are always new places to discover around the area.
I have two children – one is at primary school and the other is at university. So we have done a lot over the years. We always have our favourite places, and there are areas we don’t visit enough. And many are just on the doorstep. However, here are a few free things to do around Maidenhead that I’ve handpicked.
There may be carpark charges for some if you’re not on foot. But otherwise, pack a picnic and enjoy!
Ray Mill Island
This is always a favourite, as it’s lovely to go down by the river. If it’s not within walking distance for you there is a pay and display carpark close to Boulters Lock – or there are side roads you can park down for free (but be mindful of the residents).
You can sit by the lock and watch the boats go through, or take a stroll over the bridge and past The Boathouse at Boulters Lock restaurant to get to the island.
There is a lovely grassy area to take a picnic (although there is a kiosk there to buy drinks and snacks) and a small fountain.
You can walk round to see the bird aviaries, which have budgies and parakeets. Then there is an enclosed area with guinea pigs. And occasionally there are babies too! Great for the kids (and grown ups).
There is also a very small play area with a wooden bridge and you can have a walk around the river and see the weir.
Address: Ray Mead Road, Maidenhead, SL6 8PE
As you walk in the direction of the Maidenhead Bridge (coming from Ray Mill Island) you will come to the Riverside Gardens play park.
The gardens are lovely with a grassy area. There is a cafe (Jenner’s Cafe) and also a crazy golf – but if you want to avoid spending money then the play park is free.
There is plenty for smaller children such as swings and a sandpit, as well as things for slightly older children to play on.
There is a carpark at Riverside Gardens, but it is pay and display.
Address: Ray Mead Road, Maidenhead, SL6 8NP
Maidenhead Thicket is a great place to walk around. Parking is free (either off the Henley Road, or off Cannon Lane) and you can take a walk around the woodland. The footpath is around five miles and it’s great at any time of year. Although in the winter – don’t forget your wellies!
If you’re lucky you may spot some deer, and in the summer months you can head along the Butterfly Trail. There are yellow signposts to follow where you can spot the butterflies and other mini beasts in the wildflowers.
There is also a bit of history about the Maidenhead Thicket. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was a famous haunt for the notorious highwaymen and where you’ll find Robin Hood’s Arbour.
Approx Address: Maidenhead, SL6 3QA
Ockwells Park and Thift Wood
Heading out towards the Cox Green area of Maidenhead, is Ockwells Park and Thrift Wood.
Ockwells Park is a great play park for kids with a large free carpark. There is a zip wire, swings and climbing frames. There is also a small picnic area next to the park with tables and benches.
If you plan to have a free day out, then take a picnic – as there is a cafe with a soft play area there too.
Away from the play park, you can walk around a large public grassy area down to Thrift Wood. With 86 acres of land, you can walk in the woods and in the meadows.
In the springtime you will see the beautiful bluebells (there is a walk you can do, with a path to avoid stepping on the Bluebells). And there is always plenty of wildlife to spot in the nature reserve – such as butterflies and deer.
Address: Ockwells Road, Cox Green, SL6 3AA
Dorney Lake is situated in between Windsor and Maidenhead, and is privately owned by Eton College.
The Lake is a famous world class rowing lake, and there are often other events that take place – such as triathlons and half marathons.
However, it’s a lovely venue to enjoy a walk. The carpark is £2.50 for the day – so not a completely free day out. But there is 400 acres of parkland and you can walk around the lake in a circuit.
It’s also flat, so great for bikes or scooters – and a great place for children to learn to ride their bike.
Do check it’s open to the public before you head off as it can be closed at some times of the year.
Address: Dorney, Windsor, SL4 6FJ
This is a real favourite in the warmer months. If you need to drive to Hurley then there is a carpark in the village (which is free for 24 hours).
There is a short walk from the village carpark to the river, where you can walk along the footpaths and over the bridges.
This year we spotted a little fairy door trail in some of the trees as we walked along the river.
You can also spot cows in the field, and if you’re into watersports, why not try paddleboarding!
On a nice day, head towards Marlow where you can walk along the Thames Path. The Hurley to Marlow walk is around 2 miles along the riverside – with beautiful countryside views and interesting buildings along the way. It’s mainly flat – and takes you into Higginson Park. There you can have a picnic if you’ve prepared in advance and watch the boats go by.
Address: Hurley, Maidenhead, SL6 5NB