The plan was to go to Hemel Hempstead, drop Biggest Child off for a party and go to review 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.
There used to be two playgrounds here but they removed the oldest (and worst) one in late 2019. At the same time as removing the old playground they installed fencing around the toddler area and added some equipment. The resulting playground area is very cool. It is almost exclusively wooden play equipment, which I always prefer. There are slides, tunnels, climbing frames, swings and assorted other things.
The main play area
This area is suitable for ages 5 upwards, and has enough equipment to keep older kids quite happy too. There’s a really good play frame with loads of rope bridges and a bumpy slide. Gadebridge park has both normal swings and a nest swing as well as one of those long giant rope swing things. I really should learn the proper names for some of these pieces of equipment! I write enough reviews of playgrounds to need to know what they all are!! You’ll also find this awesome bouncer thing. Again it’s a bit like a 4-way see saw but dangling from strings.
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. Plus four kids can sit on it at the same time. All bobbing around all over the place. Not that I condone that kind of thing, but I’m fairly sure adults could get on here too!
The toddler area
As I mentioned the toddler area at Gadebridge Park has recently had an upgrade. There was already a cool hill with a tunnel running through it and a slide coming down it and a sand play area. Now there’s also a little play house and slide.
To get the most out of the sandpit area it might make sense to take your own spade etc. We didn’t have anything so Smallest Child just used her hands. Next to the house is a slide in the shape of a whale (maybe??). Or it could be a cloud. It’s hard to tell as there isn’t a tail but there are waves at the bottom.
Gadebridge Park Splash Park
Gadebridge park also has a free splash park. It is currently closed 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!
I know that in the past there have been some issues with anti-social behaviour at the splash park in Gadebridge park. People not putting swimming nappies on their kids, resulting in the whole place having to close when someone has an accident. Things like that. Generally though people seem to like it. We’ll go back when the splash park at Gadebridge park reopens and I’ll update this review.
Gadebridge Skate Park
Gadebridge Park also has a skate park (or skate garden as Smallest Child has decided it is now called). We didn’t have a go on it but it seems like quite a good one.
Mud, glorious mud
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?
We went back again in September on our way to review DJ’s Play Park and, whilst it wasn’t currently muddy, it definitely had potential. Just something to be aware of really.
Our Gadebridge Park Review
So, despite the traumatic start, and the mud, we have a lovely time. I asked Middle Child for his review of Gadebridge Park 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.
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.
Parking / How to get there
Parking – There are two car parks, the one we parked in was free
Adress – Leighton Buzzard Road, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1DN
On-site. 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 playground and they were open (on a Sunday).
Picnics very welcome. Kiosk open when the splash park is open. It’s close to town as well if you wanted to buy something.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with out 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook