Thursday 3 June 2021

Visiting the Hawk Conservancy Trust, Andover, Hampshire - A Great Day Out!

The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover is a great day out for all the family and Feathers Restaurant is worth a visit too

{Dislocusre: We received free entry and lunch in exchange 
for an honest review and sharing our opinions}

During our recent stay in the Test Valley, Hampshire we headed to the Hawk Conservancy Trust, near Andover. If you're just looking for the punchline as you don't have time to read this article then I can safely tell you it is a wonderful day out and you should go and visit there if you enjoy watching beautiful birds of prey. Their Feathers Restaurant also offers great casual dining for a reasonable price. If you have a bit of time, then read on...

What is the Hawk Conservancy Trust?

It is clear from the start how much the staff and volunteers love what they do and have a real passion for all birds of prey. This is what they say about their purpose 

"By working with many organisations and conservation groups across the world, we are able to deliver conservation, education, rehabilitation and research programmes and generate awareness for birds of prey, their habitats and the problems they face. This includes projects such as the Raptor Nest Box and Red Kite reintroduction projects in the UK through to the International Vulture Programme in southern Africa and South Asia."

I have to be honest, I don't know much about birds of prey except that I like to watch the Kestrel who nests in the church behind my house and the Red Kites who regularly fly overhead. But it doesn't matter if you're clueless like me, as the trust is not only an education and conservation charity, it is also running a fabulous visitor attraction and that was what my family got to visit.

The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover is a great day out for all the family and Feathers Restaurant is worth a visit too

Information for Visitors

There are 22 acres of beautiful countryside for you to explore during your visit. This is a mix of woodland and a wildflower meadow too. We visited on a very warm day and it was fabulous to be able to have loads of shade, provided naturally by the tree canopies. You'll see over 130 birds of prey as you explore and there is a real mix of small and larger birds including owls, hawks, eagles, stork, falcons and so many more. If you are interested in learning more about the birds kept at the sanctuary and the work that the conservancy is doing you won't be disappointed with all the information posters and plaques across the site. There is also a fun activity trail of birds of prey Top Trumps that the children can play with, they'll be given a free super tops trump card to play with. Just ask at reception. 

I really liked that not all the birds are kept in enclosures, some you can see without any wire mesh in your way as they are safely attached to their display area, this makes it great for getting some really good photos.

The highlight of the day is the flying displays, there are three at the moment and they each take place in a different arena, which is very cool and not something I have experienced before at other wildlife places. The timings for this summers program are -

11.30am - Wings of Africa

2pm - Valley of the Eagles

3.45pm - Woodland Owls

There is loads of seating and plenty of guides to show you to your seat and to help you maintain social distancing. On that note, there is sanitiser everywhere, as well as directional signs, reminders about distancing, enhanced cleaning and reduced numbers visiting. We felt very safe and as the majority of the site is outside that just adds to that feeling of safety.

The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover is a great day out for all the family and Feathers Restaurant is worth a visit too

The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover is a great day out for all the family and Feathers Restaurant is worth a visit too

Our first flying display was commentated by Ben and he was great, so much fun to listen to, he has a naturally entertaining way. The 50-minute display felt like it was over in a flash as we were all riveted.

We watched the first two displays of the day and each was unique and very good, we got to learn some interesting facts and watch the birds in action. Both had a lovely atmospheric scene where music played and they had multiple birds flying overhead for a spectacular finish to each display. You just couldn't capture on picture or video how wonderful this is, so you need to experience it for yourself. 

Food and Drink at the Feathers Restaurant

We visited the Feathers Restaurant for our lunch and we were very happy. I have to be honest and say that it was a very pleasant change to many visitor attractions we've been to as the food was not overpriced, it is cooked well and the staff were great. Result!

You don't even have to be visiting the Hawk Conservancy to enjoy a cuppa or a meal in the Feathers Restaurant, as it is so close to the A303 it makes a fabulous scheduled stop if you're travelling to the West Country. 

We went to the restaurant at about 12.20pm when our first display finished and others had the same idea, but even then it was not too busy and people were great at keeping space in the queue. There is a good selection of homemade sandwiches, priced from £3.45. My husband had an egg mayo and lettuce one and he said it was considerably better than buying a supermarket pre-packed sandwich. My teenage girls had macaroni cheese and salad each and I had a jacket potato with coronation chicken and salad. Everything was really tasty and homemade.

I think the prices were fair with soup at £5.00, jacket potatoes with a filling starting at £6.30, macaroni cheese £7.95 and Chilli con Carne with either chips or a jacket for £7.50. A can of diet coke was £1.35, a milkshake for £1.80 or a child's juice box for £1.10. So there were affordable options for everyone. The sweet treats ranged from a chocolate bar at 90p to pre-packed slices, to homemade bread and butter pudding with cream or custard. The prices ranged between £1.95 and £3.75 and I felt they were all fairly priced. The only thing I'd say was overpriced was the pizza slice, at £6.50 for pepperoni without anything accompanying it. They also offer fish and chips on a Friday.

At the moment all food and drink are served in disposable containers, I don't know if this is the norm, I assume not but it ensures they are covid-secure and I did feel that the measures they had in place were very good and we felt really safe there. Even with their outside tables, they have signage on them to show if the table has been recently sanitised.

There were loads of outdoor tables and chairs, both wooden ones in the shade and some that are obviously normally inside but have been moved out into a marque to allow space for distancing. This means the seating indoors is reduced but it was plenty for the people who came on the bank holiday weekend we visited. 

Breakfast - We obviously had lunch but I also noticed that they have a breakfast menu but baps starting at £4.00 and a fully loaded breakfast bap with egg, bacon, sausage and a hash brown is £5.50. These are served from opening time until 11.30am.

Afternoon Tea - I think it is a great idea that they have a couple of tables set for afternoon tea by the door, to tempt you to book for later. You need to book your table by 11.30am in the restaurant. The afternoon tea is £13.95 per person, or you can book it in advance by calling or email. The Afternoon tea is served at 2.45pm and there is a special ticket and afternoon tea combined price of £25.95, which presents a good saving.

Shepherds Hut Refreshments - Up at the top of the site by Reg's wildflower meadow is the Shepherds hut selling ice creams, drinks and treats. My girls very much enjoyed some New Forest soft scoop ice cream in a cone. At £2.60 it was not cheap but it was as big as a double scoop so we didn't mind. 

Events and Weddings - The Trust can cater to parties, weddings and other events and I think it would make a wonderful venue for a really memorable event. On the day we visited there was to be a wedding party later in the day and they were having a private flying display. How lovely is that? Or why not have your wedding rings flown to you by an owl? There is a range of rooms for all kinds of ceremonies, parties and events. 

Gift Shop

The gift shop is well stocked with an assortment of foods, gifts, postcards, cuddly toys, pocket money toys and some lovely collector's pieces, as well as premium alcohol gifts. It is a great place to buy yourself a nice treat to take home, or maybe a gift for a loved one. 

Children's Playground

My kids are too big now but there is a lovely play park for the smaller children. It wasn't busy at all when we went past numerous times and my teenage twins even jumped on the bucket swing for a quick go. 

Useful Information

Prices: £15.95 for an adult, £11.95 for a child (4-15 years) with younger ones being free. £50.50 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children

Opening Times: Summer season 10am - 5.30pm and a 4.30pm closure in the Winter season. Check the website for specific dates, there is a closure period at the beginning of each year, but the restaurant and shop remain open. 


Address: Hawk Conservancy Trust, Visitor Centre, Weyhill, Andover, Hampshire, SP11 8DY 

Telephone Number: 01264 773850

Parking: Loads of free spaces, designated disabled parking close to the entrance and shady covered spaces for those who need to leave a dog in the car for a short while. 

Accessibility Information: It is a fully accessible attraction. Find out specific information over here. 

Social Media:  Facebook // Instgram // Twitter

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The Hawk Conservancy Trust near Andover is a great day out for all the family and Feathers Restaurant is worth a visit too

Thansk to my husband for the use of some of his photos. 

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