Molly Dyson heads to the outskirts of Reading for a slower pace at Wasing Park
Located near the picturesque village of Aldermaston, just 45 minutes from London, lies the expanse of the Wasing Estate. Nestled among the land’s historic fishing lakes and farms is Wasing Park and its eclectic variety of event venues, complete with 26 individually designed en-suite guest rooms, some of which have been cleverly set into historic buildings such as the dovecote and the old granary.
My partner and I visit the venue on one of those rare sunny April weekends to experience everything Wasing has to offer, starting with an energising team-building activity. We’re put into a group with two lovely PAs from the banking sector and given a map of the estate, along with a set of clues related to cocktails. It’s a clever way for us to tour the grounds, as the hints lead us on a treasure hunt around some of the historic features and into the Secret Walled Garden – an ideal location for summer parties. Here we’re given all the ingredients we need to make some classic cocktails that will be judged by an expert from Wasing’s activity partner Eventive.
From the garden we’re guided on a short walk to the Woodland, an outdoor venue set next to the original ice pond that offers two wooden structures for drinks receptions. After the cocktail competition is over (our Moscow Mule didn’t win), we’re given the opportunity to try out a Segway experience, tour the grounds in a four-wheel buggy and learn from Eventive’s resident survival expert several ways of lighting a camp fire without a match or lighter. I skip the Segway but take the opportunity to learn more about the estate’s history while being driven around its two large fishing lakes, which make a great backdrop for a company picnic.
Lunch – lamb Asado and wood-fired pizza – is served in the Stables courtyard, followed by an informative salami-making demonstration by The Hampshire Salami Co, which offers classes for corporate activity days.
Later I take part in one of the venue’s many wellness offerings, a light yoga class presented in the beautiful Garden Room, a new building that offers floods of natural light and the ability to open it up to the fresh air. Spending an hour with our instructor doing breathing exercises and rejuvenating stretches leaves me feeling refreshed and relaxed.
We’re invited for drinks and canapés with owner Josh Dugdale on the terrace of the Castle Barn, one of the estate’s oldest buildings, followed by a fantastic dinner made by on-site caterer Galloping Gourmet. The Barn is a gorgeous setting for private dinners, with exposed brickwork, a vaulted ceiling the perfect lighting to create a relaxed atmosphere.
That night is spent in one of Wasing’s fabulously designed suites in the Stables Lodge, which is laid out over two floors and features all the comforts of a modern hotel without the fuss. In the morning we’re treated to a home-cooked breakfast and sent on our way with a goody bag full of sausages made using the farm’s own pork.
Companies looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the city need look no further than Wasing Park – it’s a true gem of a countryside venue.
To find out more about booking Wasing Park for corporate events or meetings, visit meetingsandevents.wasing.co.uk.