A new café and indoor play area will open in one of the most scenic parts of Eastleigh Borough in time for the busy Summer season.
Work starts next week to bring a welcoming new catering facility to the vaulted interior of the Highwood Barn at Itchen Valley Country Park. The new café will accommodate as many as 40 people – and will have an exciting woodland-themed indoor play area for children created by a local sculptor – after final plans were approved by the Hedge End, West End & Botley Local Area Committee (HEWEB) last week.
Once the new kitchen and servery are in place, and the new play area and furniture installed, the café will offer a varied menu with plenty of familiar favourites, as well as healthy options, making a visit to Itchen Valley Country Park an even better family day out. It will also be a great place to meet for coffee or afternoon tea.
Itchen Valley Country Park is set in 440 acres of unspoilt water meadows, ancient woodland, grazing pasture and meadows beside the River Itchen (the park entrance is at the southern end of Allington Lane). The park has been recognised with a Green Flag Award for the last four years and offers walking, cycling and play trails, barbecue and picnic areas, play areas for children and families and acres of green open space to relax and have fun. The Go Ape! treetop adventure, boasting some of the highest platforms and quickest zip wires in the south, is also located in the park.
While work takes place, a temporary café will be serving from the Kingfisher Barn next door. It will be open on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 March, from 10.30am to 4.30pm and will then open daily from Good Friday (30 March) from 10am to 5pm (apart from Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 April). Picnic benches will be available on the patio and grass areas. The rest of the park’s outdoor facilities will continue to be accessible.
Council Countryside staff will be continuing to sell Easter Trails and parking permits from the Kingfisher Barn.
Councillor Dan Clarke, Chair of HEWEB, said: “Itchen Valley Country Park is a real jewel in the crown of the Borough’s green spaces and is understandably very popular. We are delighted to bring a new and enhanced cafe to the Highwood Barn, and the new play area will make it an all-weather destination for our growing visitor numbers. We were happy to make this investment to enhance the experience of everyone who uses the park.”