Adventure! 11 brilliant local playgrounds
Need to remove your kids from the house (and newly painted skirting board)? Take them to the park so they can release their latent feral selves. Here are the best in Bucks & Oxon.
Adventure Zone, Denham Park
Denham Park – owned by Bucks Council – is home to a fab playground, more akin to an obstacle course if your little people prefer grubbing around in the dirt than pretending to lord it over their subjects in a pretend castle. There are tunnels, slides, rope walls to climb over, a zip line – think SAS: Who Dares Wins for the under-10s.
Emma Sallis Adventure Park, Black Park Country Park
You only have to pay for parking at this, another Bucks Council-owned park, which beyond a lake with pike, huge meadows, ancient woodland, various walking trails and – all importantly – a cafe and ice cream vans, also sports a rather extensive adventure playground. So, watch the kids scream about on the wooden wobble bridges, fortresses, seesaws, trains, etc and so forth as you leisurely sip on your latte. Bliss.
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury
Yes, you have to pay National Trust entry but make a day of it as with the aviary, the house, parterre and stables – serving warm food and ice cream – there is loads to do. The adventure playground here is fab though, and worth the ticket price alone. Set into a hillside and on several different levels, there is a new tube slide, plus a zip line, see-saw, bucket swing, rope bridge and rope walls, stepping stones, and a little self-contained playpark at the bottom for smaller kids. Literally, hours of fun.
Stanton Low Playground, Milton Keynes
Stretched out over grassland and with the ruins of St Peter’s Church nearby (for awesome games of hide and seek), this is a great option for running off excess energy. The play equipment includes tunnels, slides, a zip wire, little houses on stilts, stepping stones, a four-way see-saw and it’s not in any way contained so while your offspring can run untamed, you may need to keep a strict eye on their whereabouts.
Ropes on the Rye, High Wycombe
Ok, so don’t be put off by the town centre location. The Rye is a huge park on the river Wye and contains all the fun you’ll need for a few hours, including a boating lake, cycle trails, acres of grass to bomb across and two play parks. One is for younger children and has a retro mid-century feel, but Ropes on the Rye near the cafe is an older kids’ delight, with loads of wooden walkways, turrets, slides, bucket swings and rope bridges. The surprisingly slick open air Rye swimming pool is also worth a splash while you’re in the area.
Tumblestone Hollow, Stonor Park, Henley
Stonor Park hasn’t scrimped on amusing their younger visitors as Tumblestone Hollow is a magical, newly constructed wooden playground full of rope bridges and wooden walkways centred around an ornate little house on stilts. There’s also a book available to buy, detailing the adventures of the imaginary inhabitants, should you wish to augment your little one’s experience. Tickets from £6.50.
Blackthorn Play Park, Bicester
Blackthorn, just southeast of Bicester, has a little known adventure playground that has a fab fort structure with various ways of ascending and pelting yourself off. There’s also a zip wire, various wobbly bridges, monkey bars and a willow den, that hopefully now will be in full leaf. Round and about, there’s a large grassy area to bang about it and interesting trees to climb.
Kilkenny Lane Country Park, Carterton
Outside the village of Carterton, just four miles south west of Witney, sits this expansive playpark, which includes a zip wire, trampolines, willow maze, sandpit and perennials favourites such as slides and swings. There’s a big central structure – called The Witch’s Cauldron – that gives ample opportunity for children to swing and climb to their heart’s content. The park also has 50 hectares of land to run around should you really need them asleep by 7pm.
The Leys, Witney
Witney Towers is not, as you might be forgiven for thinking, a new-build development of executive flats but a huge play structure, full of rope climbing walls, tunnels and bridges, that make up the centrepiece of The Leys Recreation Ground in Witney. Alongside it, there are bird’s nest swings, a see-saw, trampoline, zip wire and a dedicated area for toddlers.
In south Oxford, as the name would suggest, is this beauty that has a wooden fort, tower, zip wire, wobbly bridge, various swings and slides, a den making area and plenty of trees to climb. It’s aimed at over-7s, but younger children can get stuck in as long as they’re accompanied by an adult.
The largest park in Oxford with Cutteslowe and Sunnymead combined, this has kiddie facilities to match. The Splash feature is now open alongside the three children’s play areas (two on the Cutteslowe side, one on the Sunnymead side), orienteering course (get maps from the kiosk/office), football, tennis and basketball, table tennis, duck ponds, beach volleyball (Oxford Volleyball Club for bookings), a new mini golf course (hire clubs at the kiosk), skate park, and the Cutteslowe Park Miniature Railway (April – October). Phew! There’s also a cafe and toilets.
Happen to have a hibernating teen? (er YEAH). Take a look at this lot to get your older kids away from the screens and into the fresh air.
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