Stanborough Park and lakes has a great addition for me to review – splashlands splash park. Based on the outskirts of Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire has got lots of things to do as a family and makes a really good, cheap day out.
Splashlands splash park at Stanborough lakes
The splash park is one of the biggest ones in Bucks, Beds, Oxon and Herts and has nearly 70 jets. It’s free to visit and, in order to limit numbers during covid, they have a pre-booking system in place. They recommend that you pre-book at all times, but if they’re quiet (particularly during the week) then you might be able to get in without a booking.
There are buttons the kids can press and jump on to activate some of the jets. That said, when I visited Stanborough Park to do this review I couldn’t tell which jets the buttons were supposed to active. I think maybe there’s a setting where all the jets come on regardless? In the middle is a little stream that goes between the two biggest jets – Smallest Child really liked this bit.
Who knew there were so many different types of water jet options? They really have got them all and your kids have a variety of ways to get themselves soaking wet. It may just be because it’s so new, but Splashlands was very clean everywhere – I was actually quite impressed. When we visited the water was pretty cold, but then it wasn’t exactly a warm day so that’s not entirely surprising.
Like all splash parks, the jets go off periodically for maintenance reasons (not sure what those reasons are though). Here they don’t seem to stay off for very long, and a couple of adults got caught out. They thought it was safe to go on to the splash park – only to get a jet of cold water up the bum!
Weather permitting, the splash pad will open each year, from Good Friday through to the last Sunday in September.
The adventure playground at Stanborough Park
The adventure playground area at Stanborough Park is within the splash park. I think that’s an interesting decision. It would be nice for them to be separate so, on busy days, kids wouldn’t have to choose between the playground and the splash park. Also it seemed that the lure of the water is too much for some kids when their parents have taken them for a play and then the water gets turned on.
Location question marks aside it’s a good adventure playground area. It has a massive pirate ship play frame. The centre of this is a crow’s nest that you access by scramble nets (obviously). There are also two rope bridges from the crow’s nest to the main parts of the ship. This is very high and, whilst it’s quite easy for younger kids to get up the top, it’s harder for them to get down again. And then you have to try and climb up and get them down again. Not fun. Older (school age) children will flipping love this though.
At either end of the ship there are wooden play frames for the kids to explore. There’s slides at either end, more scramble nets, climbing walls, binoculars and a ship’s wheel etc. This is also quite high up so it’s not the easiest frame for parents to help them on.
The rest of the equipment
The adventure playground is relatively small if you ignore the pirate ship (certainly in comparison to somewhere like Gadebridge Park or the new playground at Verulamium Park). The vast majority of it is suitable for younger, rather than older kids. There’s a wide range of “things upon which you can spin or rock until you vomit”. The yellow spinny cups are particularly vigorous and I swear Smallest Child nearly span herself out of one. The rockers are all dolphin shaped which all the kids seemed to love.
If the children are too small for the main pirate ship there’s a smaller version for them.
There is also a ton of swings. Once again, there’s a mind-boggling range. There’s several all in a circle, there’s a nest swing, toddler swing, an accessible swing and a parent & child swing. I’ve heard about these but this is the first time I’ve seen one in real life. I didn’t test it out, but there were some other parents who had a go.
Vertigo Adventures high ropes
Immediately behind the splash park at Stanborough Park is the Vertigo Adventures high ropes. IT LOOKS TERRIFYING! But I’m sure, if you’re happy at heights it’s brilliant. There are different levels and there’s also a couple of activities you can do such a jumping 30ft, climbing 30ft and a 165ft zip wire.
Stanborough North and South Lake
Stanborough North Lake is slightly smaller than the south one and is a bit quieter. You can hire dragon shaped pedalos. It was also the lake with the most ducks and geese. You can buy duck food from the kiosk near the car park for about £1.30. About 3/4 of the way up the lake there’s a wooden walkway across the lake. It’s fairly narrow, and a little bit rickety but we made it across in one piece.
Between the two lakes there is the River Lea and you’ll cross the river a couple of times, including to walk across to the south lake. It’s worth saving some of your duck food when you’re crossing the river. Underneath the bridge lots of fish all line up feeding. If you throw food into river they all jump out trying to get some of it!
The south lake is more water sports focused. You can do open swimming, paddleboarding, canoeing/kayaking, sailing and rafting here. There’s also aqua inflatables sessions. At the end of the lake there’s a nature reserve. We didn’t have time to walk down there so I’m not sure what it’s like.
Our Stanborough park, lakes and splash park review
This is a fantastic, cheap family day out. The splash park at Stanborough lakes is one of the best ones locally. The fact that you can then bulk it out with a lakeside walk, a nice picnic and a play in the adventure playground is a really big plus. It’s certainly somewhere that I’d like to return to again. It’s a shame that parking is so expensive.
Free. Pre-book splashlands tickets here.
Parking / How to get there
Parking – There’s a large on-site car park, well actually there’s two. £1.50 for one hour, £6 for 3 or £10 all day.
Address – Stanborough Road, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL8 6DF
There are toilets at both the north and south lakes. There is also a changing places room available. On the South side they’re open all year from 09:00 – 17:00. On the North side they are open from April –October 09:00 – 17:00
There’s a kiosk near the splash park open April –October. On the south lake there’s a cafe and restaurant which is open daily April –October and then weekends only. There’s places for a picnic, just avoid the benches nearest the lake if you don’t want to be mobbed by geese.
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 email@example.com or get in touch via Facebook