Willen Lake Review

We have been to Willen Lake, Milton Keynes a ridiculous amount of times over the years! It’s perfect for summer strolls, winter wanders and everything in between. It can get busy at times, particularly when the weather is nice. If you want to avoid the crowds there are several walks that start from here that are less popular. I’ve updated this review of Willen Lake with social distancing information.

Willen Lake Review | Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids
Looking across the lake

Willen Lake isn’t one lake, it’s actually two. People tend to just walk around the larger lake though. The car park is next to the main facilities; there is a pub, a hotel, watersports centre, miniature railway, football pitches, high ropes course and splash park. There are a couple of nice playground areas, each one designed for a different age range. The kids really like the playground and there’s a good variety of equipment for them to explore. The two sections are next to each other, are fenced off and have a gate between them which is quite handy if you have multiple age-ranges.  Plus it’s next to the toilets and you can get a coffee which makes life a lot easier. Be warned though pretty much every time I’ve used this loo it’s been gross so don’t let small kids in there on their own until you’ve had a look. 

There is currently a massive refurbishment project taking place which is going to upgrade the playground area and other facilities. I’ll be updated this review of Willen Lake as those facilities reopen.

Willen Lake Review | Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire | Free Time with the Kids
The toddler playground

Willen Lake Review Update 2020 – For some reason they’ve removed all of the fencing around the older kids’ playground. No idea why!

Family walks at Willen Lake

The larger lake is a decent size and it takes a reasonable amount of time to get round but isn’t so long that complaints of legs hurting kick in. There’s lots of wildlife to spot, mainly ducks, geese and swans and there is a dedicated feeding platform for them. There is a fitness trail that runs alongside the main route around the lake so you can intermittently prove how fit you are to the kids by doing two push-ups before they decide they want a turn. There’s also a few smaller play areas for kids along this footpath.

The footpaths around the lake are good and easy for everyone to get around on. Dogs are allowed everywhere as well. I really like a wander around Willen Lake with the kids. It’s popular and in the middle of a city but once you’re away from the main facilities it feels really peaceful. The footpaths are flat all the way round so it’s an easy walk for even the smallest legs. Willen Lake is actually a fairly sheltered spot as well so autumn and winter walks are just as good a summer ones. 

You can also easily access the Tree Cathedral and Peace Pagoda from Willen Lake. These are less popular than the lake itself but fascinating and worth the short walk. If you like running then there is a 5k parkrun on site every Saturday. 

Additional Facilities at Willen Lake

The miniature railway was a little bit disappointing if I’m honest – there’s not much to see on the ride and it doesn’t last long. There are various, much better, miniature railways locally that you can go on. Tickets are £2 per person.

The splash park is relatively new and the general consensus is that it is a bit expensive, particularly when it’s compared to the free park at Leighton Buzzard but it is better maintained. Sessions are 30 minutes each (which includes a 5 minute change-over) and cost £2 per session off-peak and £3 per peak session. They do have a lot of equipment and the kids love it. When it gets warmer again I’ll go and check it out for myself.

The splash park at Willen lake | Willen Lake Review | Milton Keynes | Buckinghamshire
The splash park at Willen Lake | Milton Keynes | Buckinghamshire
The splash park at Willen lake

We haven’t tried to watersports or high ropes course yet and there is an additional charge for these but they do look good. There’s been a lot of investment recently in the activities that you can do here so you can now also book segway tours, zorbing and a massive aquapark. A lot of these activities are seasonal and may require pre-booking so please make sure you check the website. 

They regularly hold events and activities, particularly in the spring and summer so it’s always worth keeping an eye on their website to see what’s on. 

Social Distancing Information

Since I originally wrote this review of Willen Lake Covid-19 has become an issue. Here’s all you need to know about safely socially distancing whilst walking at Willen Lake. The busiest area is around the pub, hotel and playgrounds. You can move away from these quite quickly. Most of the footpaths around the lake are wide enough to keep your distance, with grass areas at the side. There are some areas that are narrower though so you may have to take turns. The outdoors fitness trail is alongside the main footpath. There are alternative walks from the lake that are quieter.

Admission Cost

Entry – Free. There are a lot of additional activities that you can take part in as well, but these are chargeable. There’s a full list, including prices, on their website. 

Parking / How to get there

Parking – On-site but chargeable. Up to 4 hours is £2.50, up to 8 is £4.00. Shorter tickets are also available.  Parking used to be a bit rubbish but they’ve significantly improved the number of spaces in recent years. 

Adress – V10 Brickhill St, Milton Keynes MK15 0DS


On-site near the playground and the pub. There is refurbishment working taking place on these.


Pub and coffee shop on-site. Picnics welcome and they have a dedicated BBQ area as well. There is quite often an ice cream van as well.

We have eaten in the pub a couple of times. It’s not haute cuisine but it’s decent enough, reasonably priced pub food. Because Willen Lake is so popular it can get very busy during peak times so there can be a long wait to be seated and served if it’s really busy. 

Our Willen Lake Review

We’re regular visitors to Willen Lake throughout the year. For most of the year it’s popularity doesn’t really detract from a lovely walk. It’s only in the summer time that it can feel crowded. It’s a good length walk for little legs.

Family Walks | Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire | Free Time with the Kids
Willen Lake Review | Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire | Review by Free Time with the Kids

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch contact@freetimewiththekids.com or get in touch via Facebook

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