I wished Stanwick Lakes was closer to us. It offers the best of both worlds in that t has awesome play areas, which truly caters to everyone and provides endless entertainment, but there are acres of wide open spaces and walking trails around the tranquil waters for nature lovers. The best part is it is FREE; you only have to pay to park!
Once you arrive and park, get ready for the kids to light up with excitement because the mega adventure playground is easily visible from the car park. It’s remarkable how seamlessly it blends into the natural surroundings. The playground offers a variety of activities, including water play with pulleys and other play equipment that bring water to the moat/dam area surrounding it. Ay absolutely loved walking barefoot and splashing around in the stream! Just remember to bring your wellies, a towel, and a change of clothes so your kids can fully enjoy the water play area. Better still, do not go dressed in your best attire!
There are numerous other play structures suitable for children of different ages, which are all nestled in the middle of large sand pits, providing endless opportunities for play. One of the structures features a charming sunken boat to play in, accompanied by a rope play frame right next to it. Nearby, you’ll discover a treehouse with a spiral slide and huge rocks adorning its surroundings. To the side, there are toddler swings for the little ones.
As you must know major part of the play area was destroyed in an arson attack in 2021. This has now been rebuilt with a huge three tiered play frame, which includes everything you could hope for, such as slides, climbing nets, traversing walls, and a wobbly bridge, just to name a few highlights. All of this is situated right in the middle of a vast sand pit, creating a truly remarkable play experience.
We spent a delightful two hours just in this play area, and Ay would have happily stayed longer if it weren’t for my nudging to move on.
On our most recent visit, we decided to head over to the Assault course. You can access it by following the path behind the visitors centre and lake on the left (i.e. in the opposite direction to the adventure trail). Keep going along the track, you will find it on your left after you have crossed the bridge.
You can not miss the GIANT structure with tunnels that sits on one side. Once you’re inside, the fun really begins. There’s an exciting “laser” maze to navigate, Mission Impossible-style rope challenge, monkey bars to conquer, and a fireman’s pole to descend. It s quite high, so you may have to help your kids get on or off it.
Continue on with the course. Scramble through the tunnels, tackle the tyres and balancing beams, climb the HUGW cargo net, scale the three progressively taller climbing walls and ultimately swing across the ‘sinking sand’ on the rope swing then be the first to get to the end.
It is AWESOME and an obstacle course of my dreams! The boys went through it many times and came out pretty mucky even though it was a dry day. Be prepared to have your washing ready as soon as you get home.
On our way back to the car park, we also wandered into the wetland part, which had dinosaur and fish sculptures.
After spending ages in the playground, we set out on the Adventure Trail. It starts just from the right of the play ground and takes you around the picturesque section of the lake. Along the way, we had a blast traversing a rope bridge suspended over the water, conquering climbing rocks (the larger one especially appeals to older children and teenagers), experiencing the thrill of a hexagonal swing, gliding down double zip line, and testing balance on various beams. The walk does not feel like a walk as it is constantly interrupted by one thing or another, and thats the beauty of it.
To top it off, there’s even a treehouse hideout where you can enjoy an elevated view of the entire site (take your binoculars), Roman round house and white bridge. Along the trail, you’ll find picnic benches conveniently scattered about, as well as green open spaces perfect for both fun activities and relaxing moments. There are lots of ducks, geese, swans, birds to spot.
The paths are accessible by wheelchairs, bikes, buggies and scooters making it the ideal route to explore with all the family.
Watch us having fun HERE
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This one if from 2021 HERE
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Despite the name Stanwick Lakes, the focus is really NOT on the lakes. You actually don’t even come into direct contact with the Lakes, but there is so much to do you can easily spend the entire day here. It is definitely worth the hour’s drive from Oxford. When we visited last summer, people had set up gazebos in the BBQ areas, clearly spending the entire day here while children play.
One of our favourites, Irchester Country Park, is nearby and is worth a visit! If you want to combine it with an indoor activity, then you can not miss Riverside Hub!, definitely one of the best play areas around. Find our other adventures in nearby areas in our POSTS HERE
🌲There is a separate nature rambler trail, wildlife and heritage trail. I remember seeing information boards about Iron Age, Bronze Age and Roman on the walk around, but did not properly follow it.
🍗 You are welcome to BBQ at Stanwick Lakes, but strictly within the designated area, adjacent to the play area. As a site with significant reedbed and grassland areas, it is imperative that care is taken to prevent fire risk at all times.
🚲 Cycle hire is available on site at various times throughout the year, for which there is a charge. Stanwick Lakes has a network of over 7 miles of cycle paths. In addition to circular routes around the lakes there is a four mile linear route running from Irthlingborough towards Thrapston, along the former railway line, providing safe off-road cycling – and a means of ‘green’ travel for local visitors.
🏊♀️They have also achieved a Water Quality Results Certificate with “Pass – Excellent” results. You can book open water swimming on selected dates through the Summer season. More information HERE
🗺 Address: Stanwick Lakes, Stanwick, NN9 6GY
🚘 Paid parking- Up to 2 hours £3.30, Up to 4 hours £4.80, All day £6.30. Please see latest charges HERE
🚻 Toilets on site- Outdoor toilets are situated behind The Walker’s Rest. These facilities are accessible during site opening hours, and are locked at night. There are also toilets in the visitor centre, available during visitor centre opening hours only.
🍕 Cafe on site
🐕 Dogs on leads are welcome for walks, as well as in the visitor centre and cafe, but not in the play areas.
🧺 picnics allowed- There are dedicated purpose-built brick BBQ stands. Bring along a disposable BBQ or your own portable BBQ, utensils and everything else required for an alfresco meal.
🦽Buggy accessible is most parts but terrain can be bumpy and muddy
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