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California Country Park, Finchampstead

4.1
#5 of 23 in Things to do in Wokingham
Nature / Park
California Country Park is a 100acre country park covering Long Moor in the north of the civil parish of Finchampstead in the English county of Berkshire.It is situated approximately 3km south of Wokingham and is bounded by Arborfield Garrison to the west, California to the east, the Nine Mile Ride to the south and what was once Barkham Common to the north. It consists of lowland heath and bogland, including Longmoor Bog, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserve. The Park is managed by Wokingham Borough Council and is open every day throughout the year. As well as offering walks and wildlife watching, especially around Longmoor Lake, there is a cafe, summer paddling pool, toddler swings and an adventure play area.In 1931, it was established as an amusement park and Zoo by Alfred Cartilage and was called California in England.The miniature railway was initially laid out to 10.25" but was soon changed to 18" and this lasted until the outbreak of the second world war when the park closed and all the buildings were used for the manufacture of munitions.Alfred reopened the park after the war and set about developing the rides many of which were designed and built onsite, including the famous Snake Train.The railway was reestablished as 18" gauge using a petrol powered locomotive His son,Norman took over in the early 1950s and continued the development of the site including realigning the miniature railway,adding new rides and running a circus for several years.The art deco main building included a famous sprung glass floored ballroom over the restaurant and featured a full calendar of dances often 'with star turns'.This structure was later destroyed by fire.Throughout this period 'The Poppies' speedway team competed on the dirt track laid out in a remote corner of the estate. In the early 1960s the amusement business was failing and the site obtained new owners who turned it into a holiday camp.Caravanning and camping facilities are still available on site at the California Chalet and Touring Park but the main part of the original amusement area is within the country park and largely overgrown.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
144 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Visited on the May bank holiday and what a great find. Looking forward to the paddling pool bring open in July.  more »
  • the park is good for dog walkers, kids, nature fans with good accessibility for all. cafe and play park excellent for the kids too . safe for them to play and a variety of activities. nature activitie...  more »
  • Can't think of anything better about this park but I was lucky when I've had a lovely sunny day with my dog and she enjoyed her swim in the lake.  more »
Google
  • A great place to take the family on a stroll or enjoy a lovely cafe while they play on the massive play area ! On top of that, there is a big paddling pool available throughout the summer. The parking payment system has been updated and it was a much needed improvement. It is still expensive though. In the evenings, the cafe turns into a great restaurant too. Parents time !!
  • Great place for all. Lovely food at the restaurant. Fantastic park and paddling pool for children. Lovely walk round the lake looking at nature, ducks, insects and birds
  • This is somewhere, less than 10 minutes from the centre of wokingham, where you can relax away from it all with a walk around the small lake and stroll through the woods and marshes. Right now (June 2017) the broadwalk is closed due to vandalism, which is a shame, but the cafe still has great coffee and cake.
  • It's a nice place for walking round the lake or to take kids. It's a shame the paddling pool isn't open for a longer season in the summer
  • Absolutely love this place. Fantastic park. Great cafe and a gorgeous walk around the lake feeding the ducks.

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