Monday, June 22, 2009

Desert Island at Withy Grove Park

Toddler area
Daddy & Boy off to explore
My 18m old tackles a mini climbing wall to the slide

Bamber Bridge, Nr Preston, Lancashire. This is one for all you North-West readers out there. And those reading from the South, I imagine you have amazing parks like this coming out of your ears, but this is kind of a big deal ooop North!

I plan to write a little review of an amazing park in the north west, but some scene setting may be appropriate to help you plan your day if you visit this park! You can see the park from the M6 (between J28 and 29 I think....), and it is next to Bamber Bridge Leisure Centre (in fact, they share a carpark). So if you have very energetic children, I would suggest perhaps also bringing your swimming things. The pool is an interesting shape and large parts of it are very shallow, great for tots! Although I wouldn't recommend it for the under 12 months without a wetsuit, as it can be very cold in that water. On the plus side, the changing rooms are unisex, with a few family booths, and they even have a playpen to put your dry, dressed tot while you get dry and dressed yourself. If you are making a day of it, quite close by (if you're in the car, it is just at the end of the m65) is a family friendly 2-4-1 pub with a small play area called the Poachers where you could have a cheap lunch/tea.

So, scene set, let's get on to the actual park! My 21 year old sister and her boyfriend took his niece to the park, the first I heard of it (other than thinking it looked amazing from the motorway), and apparently they practically pushed said niece out of the way to be the first to run to the swings. When I first set foot in the park, the feeling of wanting to be a child again is near overwhelming, I have never seen a more exciting looking park. Ever! A lot of the equipment I couldn't even name, as it's so innovative, I'm not sure it even has names. I have literally never seen anything like it.

The park enters onto a large nautical/under the sea themed area for small children. This is really where we spent most of our time with our 18m old, but there were many ages around us, from bump to 10, I would say! There are 4 or 5 different play “sets” in this area, some even suitable for new walkers or even crawlers with minimal supervision. They are mainly set on sand (with sand toys such as diggers dotted around), so if your child is a sand fan, bring your buckets. Your child may be too over excited by the park to use them though! :-) One of my favourite aspects of this area is the extra wide slide, where as a parent, you can take a small child on your knee with comfort and ease. There are steps, or a ramp to this slide.

Dotted all around the park are various types of swing: baby swing and big swings, but also large round swings on which a few children could lay, and special swings to cater for disabled users (harnesses available from the leisure centre). Other great disabled facilities include accessible roundabouts too. There are also many “games” around the park, such as a giant abacus, and my favourite, a sort of stand-on organ thingy that sounds like pan-pipes! Boy was not heavy enough for this though. I can provide any extra weight needed :-)

As you move further back, there is much more adventurous and grown up equipment for your pre-teens and dare devils, with small climbing walls, huge rope climbing frames, massive slides and other amazing gadgetry I would struggle to describe, let alone name! I did comment to HID that if he'd had a place like this as a boy, he may have had a few less injuries from botched rope swings and home-made BMX ramps. I think even the most too-cool-for-school big kids would be happy here. This area then leads into a skate park. I don't know enough about about skating to rate or slate this area, but I think it's fairly credible for a park to even attempt to cater for teens too. It did seem to be a meeting place for some quite cool looking teenagers (I wish I suited skinny jeans and messy hair!). Lets just say Boy enjoyed running up the ramps and sliding down them. Sorry for the short review of this area, but it's not really aimed at us :-)

Around the edges, there are some funky looking chairs and tables for grown-ups to sit and watch, although one family had clearly made a day of it and brought their own camping chairs. There are portaloos just outside the gate, along with a cafe that advertises being open Saturday and Sunday 10-4, but I've never been during those times and a few windows were boarded up, so I'd take your own drinks, or pennies for the vending machines just inside the leisure centre. Alongside the park is a huge rugby field for all your ball games/picnics/general running round. There may also possibly be some woods to explore behind, but we're always too enamored with the park to look around properly! The car park is right next to the park, it was easy for my son, who has been walking a month, to get there, and even me on my crutches.

As you can tell, it really is well worth the visit! The motorway links are quite good too. It's actually on the same road as the Bamber Bridge children's centre too, set in the grounds of the local high school, which has a truly amazing garden for pre-schoolers, and fab, free week day activities such as rap & rhyme or messy play (number: 01772 536845), which would be great if planned around for a weekday outing. Inbox me ( for a full list if you like!


At 11:00 am , Anonymous Laura McIntyre said...

The park looks and sounds excellent, i can imagine any child having a ball there.

At 12:23 pm , Blogger SandyCalico said...

Thanks for that great review, Bamber Bridge is just down the road from me. This post has been favourited x

At 12:43 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as some people wont want to hear this, I advise you all to not go to this park. Yesterday I was attacked by a large group of 14 year old girls who were all drunk in early hours. The police took there time on arriving which was one hour later and when they did they said that the CCTV cameras had recently been replaced. CCTV cameras on a childrens park? That just proves how bad the area is. I'm 17 years old and I got attacked by a group of children. I advise you to all stay away from this place.

At 7:47 am , Blogger allgrownup said...

oh my word that's awful!! I hope you are ok now? I'm sure if the park is avoided after dark it wouldn't be too bad? I wouldn't normally go to a park at night anyway. I hope it is safe in the day! It's the only suitable facility near us as I still can't walk very far after my op. I will take this review off after you have seen this comment hun, I don't want to recommend a dangerous place xx


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