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Two fab outdoor sports courses

two young boys in life jackets on wind surfing boat on river

This year I will not – I repeat, will NOT – be the mother texting around the week before the summer hols start begging for playdates because I’ve been too lazy to book my kids onto any courses. That’s it people, it’s out there! Watch me deliver!

I’m in the throes of planning a big summer hols guide so watch this space, but in the meantime, word has reached my shell-like that new courses at Willen Lake in Milton Keynes and Longridge Activity Centre, in Marlow have already started, so this is an early heads up.

blue lake water in milton keynes willen lake

Willen Lake is the number 1 sports and leisure spot in Milton Keynes, a free park with watersports activities, cycling paths, playground, high ropes and cafe, and there are massive plans afoot this summer with a £2m splash park launching and loads of festivals, picnics and courses being offered. There’s a brand spanking new Saturday morning kids club (9-11am), Willen Crusaders, aimed at kids 8-16 that’s just started and will continue right through until September, offering everything from windsurfing and kayaking to sailing and dragon-boating, plus archery and team-building on terra firma. It’s a drop in session and costs £10 so it’s incredibly good value and they focus on one sport each week. They also do brilliant summer holiday courses, and you can book either by the day or week – check them out here.

The other brilliant activity centre is down the bottom of Muddy Bucks/Oxon territory in Longridge Activity Centrebelow.

people kayaking on lake surrounded by trees

It offers similar charms to Willen Lake except it’s on the river, with Marlow a tantalisingly close and chi-chi option for food and fizz afterwards. My youngest son, Cass, who has just turned 8, had his first day at Longridge over half term and he absolutely raved about it, and my daughter Iris, 10, who’s been there 3 times already now, happily returned for her fourth outing of dragon boating, climbing, sailing and water zorbing.

Longridge, like Willen, offers great value day or week long courses and is also putting on Ultimate Sleepovers at Longridge for 10-14 year olds – two full days of activities and food with an overnight stay for £148.

row of canoes

Both Longridge courses start in the summer hols but if you can’t wait until then, Longridge is currently taking part in Love Marlow, where families can try any sports on offer for £6 per activity per person, including Canoeing, Kayaking, Leap Of Faith, Go-Karts, Climbing Wall and Water Orbs. The sessions are on evenings from 6-7.30pm on Tues 6- Fri 9 June and Thurs 14 – Fri 15 June.

Anyway, there you have it. As you can tell I’m all for chucking kids outdoors and getting into sport while I shout at them, mid Mars Bar and flat white, to try harder and ‘Come on, what’s wrong with you, JOIN IN!’ So if you’re like me, hopefully you’ll find this little missive useful.

Watch out for the bigger version in a months’ time and I’ll try not to brag about how super-organised I’ve been with my summer childcare… 

Longridge Activity Centre, Quarry Wood Road Marlow Buckinghamshire SL7 1RE. Tel: 033 0303 0101 Option 1.

Willen Lake, off V10 Brickhill Street, Milton Keynes MK15 0DS. Tel:  01908 246599.


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