Now that summer is apparently here, I thought that it would be good to share some thoughts as to some of the best parks we have come across in the region.
Yes, some can be a bit bare and a bit run down, but there are a few diamonds out there and allow for a lovely way to spend an hour or so in the sunshine.
Wilton Park – WF17 8NN
A (very) local one to me with a standard playground at one end, but when the cafe opens at the other end, there is a boatload of outdoor toys to play with for the children. In between is a lake where on weekends you can watch model boat enthusiasts navigate their boats on the water.
On weekends there is usually an ice cream van and a land train and as the cafe has recently been renovated, the facilities are top notch. If you fancy the half mile walk up a big hill through the woods, there is Bagshaw Museum (free) which will entertain for an hour.
A word of warning, the hill is very steep and not the easiest for little legs or pushing a pushchair (I know from personal experience!) Parking can get problematic at weekends and so you’re best using the car park at the “playground” end as it is easier to park in there although getting back out to the busy Bradford Road is often a challenge!
Valley Gardens, Harrogate – HG1 2SZ
This is probably one of the best pure playgrounds in Yorkshire, with relatively new and diverse equipment and enough to go round as well. Perhaps more suited to school age children, there is plenty of space within the playground and the gardens themselves to allow children to run free.
Parking tends to be an issue as it is pretty much in the centre of Harrogate. When we went, the toilets were closed but when the kiosk is open, you can play crazy golf and there is an open paddling pool for the summer months.
We tend to park in the centre of Harrogate and walk to the gardens. On the way back, stop off for a bun or two before heading back home! I would recommend the world famous Betty’s tea room, although may not be the best with a toddler!
Pudsey Park – LS28 7RR
The actual playground is pretty run down and not the best at all. However, the small animal enclosure is a little unusual but nonetheless worth the trip.
There are quite a number of small animals to look at and while you can’t touch them, it is all indoors so you can enjoy in the relative warmth. It is free as well so it is well worth a trip out, even if it is to talk to the birds in the enclosure!!
The park itself is quite large and flat and the paths would be ideal for learner cyclists or scooterists. Free on street parking is available and there are nearby shops as well. Just don’t build up your hopes for the playground…
Manor Heath Park, Halifax – HX3 0EB
A lovely park hidden away even though it is just a mile away from the town centre. Quite a large playground but a large sand/water play area which means that it makes the list. (Make sure you take a spare set of clothes!)
Toilets are not the best but there is a butterfly/tropical enclosure within the park for a bargain price of £1 each. This doesn’t get nearly enough publicity as the larger Tropical World in Leeds and as it is much quieter, Manor Heath is a much more enjoyable experience and much better value for money.
Plenty of free street parking and lots of open grass to play and have a picnic. Also, there are a couple of beautiful gardens as well, just vary it up a little bit, in case the little ones are interested in natural habitat.
Wharfe Meadows Park, Otley – LS21 2BH
Situated next to the River Wharfe this is a large playground with cafe and a short walk into the town. Free street parking is available albeit a squeeze at times, but there are plenty of playground toys to play on, especially for the older children.
As it is so large, there is no fencing surrounding the playground so you need to be careful a little and keep your eye out but the paths are ideal to practice cycling. As it is next to the fast flowing river, there are plenty of ducks there to feed as well!!
The short walk into the town is a must as well, to see life at a somewhat different pace!!
I am sure that there are others that I have missed so feel free to add a comment and I would be more than happy to include it on an update!