Sywell Country Park
With its large sand and water play area, animal sculpture trail and small indoor soft play, Sywell Country Park was a huge hit with my toddler. So much so he was disappointed to leave! The best thing is it only costs £3 to park and you can easily spend a good few hours there. The sand and water play area – called the filter bed – includes a water pump (little boy loved this) a climbing frame (better when the children are a bit bigger) a smaller pirate ship style climbing frame and lots of sand for digging. I would advise that you take waterproofs or spare trousers as the kids can get quite wet. The indoor soft play is advertised as costing £1.50 for 45 minutes although when we went it was free. I’d say it’s probably only suitable up to the age of 3, but it’s also quite a good place if you have a crawling baby and want to put them down somewhere.
We loved the animal / bug sculpture trail. It wasn’t huge but plenty big enough for toddler and he loved spotting all the animals. There’s a big slide there too. He also enjoyed seeing the cascading water and feeding the ducks. The park was originally built in the early 20th century as a reservoir and waterworks for part of Northamptonshire and it still contains many of its Edwardian past such as the valve tower on the dam and the electric turbine pump in the visitors centre. We first visited the park in January 2016 but I imagine there’s lots more to see in the butterfly garden and the amphibian pond in the summer. A lot of the kids stuff is easily walkable from the car park so its ideal for little ones, but should you want to be more adventurous or have older children you can do a 2.5 mile circuit which takes roughly about 1hr 30 mins to walk. Sywell Country Park is a bit of a drive from MK but given how cheap it is we found it an excellent place to take small children – even when its chilly! There’s a nice small café there selling hot drinks and some food. We saw lots of dogs so presume they are allowed in the park. Cycling is not permitted.
ADDRESS – Sywell Country Park, Washbrook Lane, Ecton, Northants, NN6 0QX
TIME FROM MK – 35-45 mins approximately
We visited in January 2016.