Well this was a bit of a surprise! I was at Cedars Park to do a review of the nature centre. Due to post-covid restrictions tickets are only for 45 minute slots, so we had the rest of the day to explore the park. It’s in Waltham Cross, Herts, just a couple of minutes from the M25. If you haven’t heard of it then it’s a popular family park on the site of what used to be Theobalds Palace.
Theobalds Palace Ruins and Models
Dotted all around Cedars Park you’ll find the walls and ruins of Theobalds Palace and some of the other buildings that used to be on this site. What I really like is that throughout the park you’ll find models of the palace and where you in within it. That’s really cool! There are also signs all over the park giving you information regarding how the different features relate to the history of the site.
Don’t be fooled by the flint archway though. It’s got nothing to do with the palace, it was actually built as a double sided folly for the former Cedars house.
The Children’s Play Trail and Maze
Towards the back of the park you’ll find the children’s play trail and maze. If you saw my Facebook or Instagram story on the day we visited you’ll know that I was less than impressed with the maze. Yes they’re tried BUT it’s been ruined. If you follow the path then actually the maze is really long and quite complicated. However, you don’t need to follow the path. The hedges are only about a foot tall and there’s huge gaps in between them. You can just walk straight from the edge to the middle which kind of defeats the point!
The children’s trail was interesting though. There’s a venusburg (spiral mound) made from astroturf which the kids loved running up and around. It’s a little bit Tubbyland if I’m honest. There’s also some grass paths to explore and, hidden around you’ll find a camel, tiger and elephant. These are all big wooden sculptures that pretty much every child who walked past had to climb on. There is a little seating and blackboard area too. In the absence of a typical playground it’s a nice way for the kids to blow off some steam. The animals have all been chosen because the king used to have them living here, but it would have been nice if there were a few more animals dotted around to qualify as a “play trail.”
The Rest of Cedars Park
Firstly, make sure you visit Cedars Nature Centre. It’s a small zoo situated right in the park, it’s really cheap and it’s really nice. Click here to read my review.
There are lots of other areas of Cedars Park, which are all separated down into smaller areas by the original palace garden walls. There’s some areas that are just green space with the odd tree dotted around. In the middle there’s one section with a rose garden, the toilets and cafe and loads of trees. You’ll find quite a few good trees for climbing in this bit. Trust me, my three can find a good tree to climb within a nanosecond of arriving somewhere, and they found several!
The largest area of the park looks more like your typical park, except there’s a WWI tank parked in the middle of it! Normally kids are allowed to climb on the tank but it’s currently cordoned off. There’s also a little duck pond and stream. I think, theoretically the kids could splash around in this stream bit. When we visited the water looked pretty gross and I wouldn’t want mine to play in it. I’m not sure if it’s always like that though.
Our Cedars Park Review
I was surprised by how good this park is, and also how popular it is. There’s plenty of space for everyone (although it seems the 2m rule doesn’t seem to apply to some people here!!). Yes, there isn’t a playground area, but there’s plenty of things to do with the kids. Given the facilities that are on site you can very easily spend a whole day here.
Entry is free
Parking / How to Get There
Address – Cedars Park, Waltham Cross EN8 8RN
Parking – Small, free car park. It does fill up quickly at peak times. Seems to be quite a quick turnover of cars though.
There are toilets on site, including baby change.
There is a cafe on site. Apparently the queues can be quite long when it’s busy. Picnics are welcome and there’s lots of places to have them.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. 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