I dont really know how to summarise my impression of the Ryton Pools country park in Warwickshire, near Coventry. The play areas are awesome but the walks are a bit underwhelming if I compare them to the amazing country parks we have been to recently. Will I go back here again for the walks, hmmm, probably not.. For a one off day out, it is good but not worth the long drive for a second time for me.
We started on the wrong footing. It looked like we would be heading back home after driving for 50 minutes to reach here because the parking machine was not accepting Apple Pay, smartphone/smart watch or coins/ cash. It was contactless payment but ONLY by a physical card! Luckily someone took pity on us. We gave them cash while they paid for our ticket by their card (thank you if you are reading this!). We were not the only ones in this situation as at least two more people after us had the same problem and needed rescuing. It was a hot sunny weekend, so there were plenty of people around, imagine, if we had come on a weekday and there was no one to help us!! They really need t0 upgrade their machines to make them at par with the rest of the world.
PHEW… that was a narrow miss!
The pirate play area is visible from the car park, so that is where we went first! The play area has two pretty cool Pirate Ship climbing frames, a pirate boat for imaginative play, themed interactive play panels, seesaw, swings, springers, balancing beams and logs as well as a small sand pit with equipment to spark imagination and creativity.
The area is fenced and rubber matted. It was very busy so I couldn’t photograph properly (without getting anyone in it). It was so crowded that kids were literally on top of each other; some of them pretty rowdy and rough and not letting others have a go. I never intervene in these situations because I believe children should manage their own conflicts in their own (kind) ways but I could see Ay did not feel comfortable and I did not like seeing him that way. He quickly came off and wanted us to walk towards the trail.
There are a number of trails you could choose from here. You can either enter the cursed coin pirate themed walk which is a brilliant little walk which will eventually take you to a cool den building area. The trail includes palm trees, treasure chests, barrels, cannons, rocks and sea creature inspired play equipment to underscore the theme and encourage swashbuckling pretend play. There are also meant to be pond dipping platforms, which will be handy in summers!
Alternatively, you could leave this trail for the end and go to find the other play area first. To do that, turn left from the cycle hire area and keep following the path, until you reach a (sort of) T- Junction. We kept on the left side, until we reached the foothills adventure playground with the lake across the road. There is also an ice cream truck just near the entrance and I doubt you will escape it without buying anything from it (or may be your kids are better disciplined than mine).
THIS PLAY AREA IS AWESOME, stretched over a small hill, it is a climbers delight! There are climbing frames for all ages. There is one for toddlers and younger children (3-4 years +) and then another one for bigger boys which Ay managed with a lot of encouragement. He got up on the wobbly rope bridge but did not realise that he had to go on a climbing net to reach the fireman pole which was actually quite high. After weighing in for 5-10 minutes on the top (almost going back then deciding against it), he managed to come down and was really proud of himself afterwards. There are only wooden chips on the ground, so please keep a close eye on your children. The zip wire was broken but there is also an uphill obstacle course, spinning disc, springers, music panels, swings of all kinds, a mound with a small but wide slide and a long vertical metal slide (which I am sure will be really hot to come down in in summer).
There was also another climbing frame, which I don’t know the name of. It has horizontal rope ladders which you try to climb up, to reach the rope buckets in the middle at different heights and then try to move from one to another via monkey bars or ladders/ ropes. It does not look very complicated at first glance but the height between ladder rings was quite long and the entire structure (made of ropes) can be very wobbly, so Ay found it quite challenging and couldn’t manage all of it.
After spending a lot of time in the play area, we decided to explore more. We walked around the lake. There are plenty of opportunities to get near to the water edge but you can also do that near the bird hide, so you can give this part a miss if you don’t want to tire our your little ones. Swimming is not permitted for humans for sure but I saw many dogs jumping into it (so may be they are allowed!!).
We then traced our steps back to the T junction where this time we turned right instead. Keep walking and you will see the entrance to the woodland walk on your left. It is like any woodland nearby you if I am completely honest. There is a figure of eight trail, the map for which I found after searching really hard when I came back (as you won’t find it there). There was no WOW moment here, so if you miss it, don’t worry!
If instead of turning towards the woodland walk, you kept on walking straight, you will soon come by the sculpture of a Straight-tusked elephant nearby the sand Martin hotel. Keep following the trail to reach the bird hide which was pretty cool from inside. There were ducks and swans waiting to be fed. if you circled around on this path, you will eventually reach the visitors centre.
From the first Sunday in April until the end of September, you can also take a ride on the Miniature Railway on Sunday afternoons (or some bank holidays) from 13.00 to 16.00 (weather permitting), but it was closed when we visited. Keep an eye out on their site HERE. Fishing is available through a local club via a permit scheme.
🗺 Address: Ryton Rd, Bubbenhall, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry CV8 3BG, United Kingdom
🚘 Paid parking on-site- 2 hours: £3.00, 2 to 4 hours: £4.00, over 4 hours: £6.00
Please note that cash-less payments are by card only and NOT via a smartphone or smartwatch or cash/coins.
🍕 Cafe near the car park
🚻 Toilets and baby facilities near the car park
🧺 Picnic allowed and many picnic benches around the place
🦽 Buggy accessible- The Visitor Centre has disabled access and visitors are able to hire mobility scooters (Please phone 02476 305592 for further details)
🐕 Dogs welcome
Bring your cycles or scooties (thoughI think they would be hard to scoot on this path)!! Cycles also available for hire (check HERE) but Electric e-scooters, quads, go-peds, mini-motos, hoverboards and Segways not allowed. A 16 mile Mountain Bike Trail starts from Ryton Pools Country Park. It uses public roads and bridleways, so the surface may be rough and muddy.