Where can I take the kids during lockdown?
Yep, we’re feeling it too. We’ve been locked down during a dark, dank month and yet we still have children who need fresh air and exercise. Calling all options: now is the time to present yourselves.
“FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” cried every parent of children a certain age as Boris announced Lockdown No.2. “WHAT IN HELL’S NAME AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THEM NOW?” Because as we are all well aware, restrictions or no, children simply cannot sit in their home for the weekend, quietly idling away the hours. While we’d like to think they might make up some educational, deeply creative and immersive game, the fact is they whine for snacks, build dens with your £1,000 sofa and send push bikes down the stairs. So, in parental solidarity, we’ve done you a, erm… solid. Here’s a few local country parks, woodlands and attractions that have remained open or partially open for weekend ‘household exercise’. And if the police pull you over and ask what you’re doing out and about, just point to the back seat and grimace.
Whilst the Abbey itself is currently closed for Lockdown, the the Walled Garden and grounds are welcoming visitors and the fantastic Orangery Cafe is open for takeaway. There are 500 acred of parkland to explore within walking distance of Northampton town centre, and some fab sculpture in the gardens too.
As National Trust properties go, Canons Ashby is a small, lesser known sorta gal, but she’s a corker. The park and garden are currently open, as is the Tack Room kiosk for takeaway drinks, cakes and snacks, but the house church, shop and tea-room remain closed for the current lockdown. Advance booking is essential.
A 60 acre fairytale woodland garden with a meandering stream flowing through and vast collection of rare and unusual trees and shrubs. It’s pay to enter, and check before traveling as the garden may be closed in high winds. Grab a coffee and cake from Uncle Geordie’s Shed.
An absolutely gorgeous spot for a potter around in the garden and grounds. The Orangery and Menagerie are closed during the second Lockdown period and the Tea Room is closed for the season, but there are 35 glorious acres to explore here of both elegantly groomed gardens and wilderness areas. You can even nab some supplies at the lovely Castle Ashby Deli in the village.
A 270 hectare nature reserve adjoining Rushden Lakes shopping village, you might not be able to hire a canoe or a pedalo right now, but you can still explore the water meadows and woodlands and spot a few migratory birds and murmurating starlings. There are even a few stores here currently open for click and collect and some restaurants remain open for takeaway.
Stanwick Lakes has a whopping 750 acres to explore and the site remains open for Lockdown II, Including the outdoor play areas, refreshment kiosk and, most crucially, the loos. It’s also a great place to get your kids (and yourself) out on their bikes as they’ve got over 7 miles of cycle paths, plus a sculpture trail and heritage trail.
Woods, meadows and grassland as well as hard-surfaced paths: Pitsford Water and adjoining Brixworth Country Park, have something for all levels of ability. The walking tracks, play parks and nature reserves remain open, with takeaway services available from the cafe.
A reservoir on the urban fringes of Daventry with plenty of woodland nooks and crannies to explore and a lovely path following the edge of the water, which is great for a walk or bike ride. The cafe is open for takeaway and there is a fantastic outdoor play park here too.
Once the site of acres of gravel pits, this picturesque nature reserve is set in some of the loveliest scenery in the county and is home to an abundance of wildlife including a large population of grey herons. There are gravel paths and kissing gates to the bird hide as well as grassy paths. Great for letting the kiddos burn off energy and immerse themselves in nature.
There are several lovely outdoor play areas at Sywell, which encompasses a vast former drinking water reservoir, as well as extensive paths and a pinetum, perfect for exploring with the kids, and there is a cafe for takeaways and a loo, always important with little ones in tow.
This historic woodland has walking, cycling, running and horse riding trails as well as play areas, picnic areas and a lovely cafe, currently only open for takeaway but with outside seating available. A fantastic place to get properly muddy.
We are so blessed to have loads of gorgeous country parks in Northants and Fermyn Woods, just outside Brigstock, is a lovely 15 acre site with space to explore and activities for the Mudlings too. You can download their scavenger hunt and follow the brass rubbing trail. The Skylark Cafe is open for takeaway and kids can still use the play park too.
On the outskirts of gorgeous Oundle, Barnwell Country Park is a great place to let the Mudlets let off steam in the great outdoors. There’s a “beach” at the edge of the lake that kids will love and the bonus is that you can still to grab a warming treat from the Kingfisher’s Cafe to take away.
As ever, pre-booking is a must but you get acres upon acres to tire out your beloved offspring. The cafe is open at the New Inn (where you enter and exit the park) and you can always picnic. We know it’s November but desperate times, etc.