As a family, we are always looking for new places to explore and new parks in particular, as they provide the all encompassing family day out. Hubby and I both studied at the University of Derby so, going back to our old stomping ground now that we have kids of our own was always on the agenda.
Last weekend, we had that rare but lovely combination of gorgeous weather and no prior plans, so we made the decision that it was time to put our plan into action! This time, our time in Derby, was of course destined to be different, with a day spent at the park rather than an evening (and beyond) spent crawling the bars in the city centre.
Markeaton Park is the perfect green space of tranquillity, peace and freedom that is so needed within the city environment. In fact, a few steps into the park and you’d forget that you were in a bustling city at all. In fact it’s so big, that we only touched the surface of what’s there and would need to return again and again to explore the whole thing.
Naturally, as the girls are 4 and 7, and had spent over an hour in a hot car, travelling to the park, they were eager to get out and play and we were eager to let them! So following the helpful maps spotted around the park we headed straight for the Mundy Play centre and decided that we’d work our way back towards the car park as the day went on.
As I’ve mentioned, it was a beautiful day, around 25 degrees Celsius, so the girls were eager to cool off with a refreshing splash in the paddling pool. And what a lovely pool it is! Just 0.7 metres deep at its deepest point, the girls were able to splash and play happily and safely. The water was clean and extremely inviting with the sun sparkling on the surface, so I couldn’t resist dipping my toes in too! There’s a lovely grassy bank around the edge of the pool where you can sit on the grass and watch the children play, and even a member of staff supervising the pool too. To be honest, we could have probably spent a whole afternoon, just doing this. The girls had their water squirters and an inflatable dolphin and the pool has sprinklers which adds that extra bit of excitement. It wasn’t at all overcrowded, so we were able to sit on the bank and watch them play safely without being afraid of losing them in the crowd. But as we’d travelled, we wanted to explore as much of the park as possible to make the most of it.
There is SO much to do at the Mundy Play Centre! Car driving, canoes built especially for kids, bouncy castles, crazy golf, donkey rides as well as the pool and play area…There really is something for everyone. All of the activities (except the pool and play area) do cost money, but I didn’t find the cost to be unreasonable, at around £2.60 per activity. We said the girls could choose an activity each. Duckling decided she wanted to do the driving and Banana decided on the bouncy castle. They both really enjoyed these activities and for £5.20, I was happy too!
Next we watched the canoes for a bit (they didn’t have a go because Duckling was too young, as they were for 6-11 year olds) They looked great fun and I could see that the water was shallow and all safety precautions had been taken. Then we headed over to the fantastic playground area, which provides everything a child could wish for, including a double spiders web, huge ship play structure, slides, swings and pretty much anything else you can imagine! Again, we could easily have spent a full afternoon here, and in fact, had to bribe the girls away with promises of ice-cream.
The walk back into the park includes woodland walks, garden walks, a lake with rowing boats and pedalos, streams, ducks, bridges… It’s just beautiful! We stopped on one of the bridges for a quick game of pooh sticks, and enjoyed a lovely shady walk under the trees while the girls ate their ice creams (as promised). Then we had a short stroll through the stunning historic gardens, a remnant of Markeaton Hall which used to occupy the park land. Some of the buildings still remain, such as the orangery, which is now a cafe and other buildings which are used as the craft centre where you can paint a pot, as well as gift shops and a model village.
As it’s the summer holidays, the girls were thrilled to find that there was a summer fun fair set up, so we obligingly let them go on a few rides each and choose something from the hot-dog stand just in time for a big grey menacing storm cloud to descend. As our parking time was nearly up, the rain was starting to spit and our legs ached from so much walking, it seemed the perfect time to call it a day. But we’ll definitely be returning again soon for another visit!
You can find out more information about Markeaton Park here: InDerby
Comment below with your favourite park to explore.