Leighton Buzzard Rd, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1DN
The plan was to go to Hemel Hempstead, drop biggest child off for a party and go to Gadebridge Park to kill a couple of hours before pick-up. Sadly middle child cut his head badly on the way and it became one of the most traumatic starts to a review ever! After he was cleaned up and given lots of cuddles we still had the time to kill and were stuck in Hemel so he decided he wanted to go to the park anyway (what a trouper!)
So, feeling a lot more flustered than anticipated, we arrived at the park and I’m glad we went – it provided a much needed distraction for middle child.
Gadebridge Park is a fairly large park close to the centre of Hemel. It has a little stream running through it and tons of open green spaces. There is also a skate park, two different playground areas and a free splash park. There’s also a lot of wider parkland and paths to explore.
One of the playground areas is much newer than the other one and is very cool. It has lots of wooden equipment suitable for toddlers upwards. The focus is mainly on ages 5/6 up to early teens. There are slides, tunnels, climbing frames, swings and assorted other things. There is also a little manual digger in the sand pit and a (very) small zip wire. The highlight for us was the see saw. It’s the best see saw I’ve ever seen! Instead of sitting opposite each other you sit next to each other whilst still bouncing up and down independently. Normally (being a large lady) I never sit on see saws for fear of snapping them, but I was quite happy on this one.
There is also a free splash park. It is currently closed for winter so I couldn’t really get a good picture but it’s a flat park with lots of jets coming up from the ground rather than jets coming from equipment. The splash park is in a fenced off area with plenty of grass and benches around for when the kids aren’t splashing about. There is also a little kiosk there when it’s open as well. The park is open from 10-6 every day from May – September. I bet it’s awesome in the summer after school!
The other playground area is much older and mostly more suited to younger children, although there is some equipment for older kids. I do have a preference for wooden playgrounds, purely because they seem to age better, and Gadebridge confirmed that. The equipment itself was quite varied and smallest child loved the little slide maze. They are structurally sound, but they are looking quite shabby; nothing a quick lick of paint wouldn’t solve though. This playground actually worked a lot better for us than the wooden one, mainly because of smallest child. This one is fenced off whilst the other one is open, and it’s flatter so she wasn’t tripping over.
Looking at the website it says that they have public toilets but that they’re not open on Sundays. That’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard. Is there something about Sundays that means people don’t need a wee? When we got there there is a white block of toilets by the wooden playground and they were open (on a Sunday).
The one thing I was REALLY surprised about was the mud. Now, I know it’s January, but we really haven’t had much rain. It’s “just” a park, not the woods, so I really wasn’t prepared for all the mud in the world. Honestly – you could see all the parents scrubbing it off their pushchairs, shoes and bikes. It was everywhere. Did I mention it was muddy?
If you are visiting the park it’s worth having a look at the water gardens nearby. We didn’t get chance to visit them but they looked lovely and are free to visit. Check them out if you can.
Anyway, despite the traumatic start and the mud we have a lovely time. I asked middle child for his opinion and he says it’s “great”. I think it’s a really nice park and, if you take a picnic, you could easily spend the day here. The addition of the splash park is a real plus, but I imagine it gets very very busy. We’ll have to go back when it’s open.
Entry – Free
Parking – There are two car parks, the one we parked in was free
Toilets – On-site (even on Sundays!!)
Food – Picnics very welcome. Kiosk open when the splash park is open. It’s close to town as well if you wanted to buy something.
Rating – 4 / 5. We’ll definitely be back to try out that splash park and show biggest child the playground.