Best lidos and splash parks in Cambridgeshire
Feeling hot, hot, hot? Our pick of the best lidos, aqua parks and splash parks to cool down in. Just add sun lotion.
The summer holidays are just around the corner and we’re praying for more sun so the kids can burn off some energy in the great outdoors (and not cause chaos in the house). When that heat waves hits – or before if you’re a “grin-and-bear-it” sort of mum as your kids turn blue (*raises hand sheepishly*) – then you’ll want to roll up some beach towels and head to the nearest…lido! Here’s the Muddy-approved lowdown on all the best local spots for al fresco water fun. Just make sure those bikini straps are firmly secured before you cannonball in…
Need to cool down on the hottest day of the year? Cambridgeshire might be landlocked, but what we lack in seaside we make up for in amazing lidos and water parks. First up, it has to be the amazing Jesus Green Lido. If you haven’t heard of this one you’re probably on the wrong website, as all Cambs residents have at the very least dipped a toe into this original 1920s lido, one of the largest outdoor pools in Europe. It’s seriously long (intended to give the illusion of swimming in a river) so if you’re not the strongest swimmer, I’d suggest widths rather than lengths.
Not to be outdone, Peterborough’s Lido gives Jesus Green a run for its money in the size and historical style stakes. It’s Art Deco chic and has not one, but three heated outdoor pools – a 50m main pool, a teaching pool and a paddling pool for the littlties. After all that exercise mini rumbling tummies will be delighted to hear there’s a café on site with hot and cold food, plus there’s space to sun bathe and a play area.
Then there’s Lammas Land Pool (most locals refer to it as the Newnham paddling pool), which is really shallow and most suited for kids to run through and splash in on a hot summer’s day. For more serious swimmers, head to the Sheeps Green Learner Pool next to the Cambridge Canoe Club. It’s 0.9m deep throughout, making it ideal for learner swimmers and is right next to the wild water meadow on the River Cam. Both are right next to a really large play area, have changing facilities and a kiosk selling drinks and snacks, so are really good options for a cheap day out with the kids.
If lidos are a little tame for your boisterous bunch, let them burn off some energy at one of the region’s amazing aqua parks (go on squeeze yourself into a wet suit, you know you want to). These have popped up over the last few years thanks to the popularity of TV shows like Total Wipeout – if you haven’t seen it, you have to indulge in at least a few minutes of mind-numbing but hilarious TV, as the contestants fly through the air at all sorts of ungainly angles always culminating in a belly flop. Anyway, us Cambs lot are much more graceful and will totally ace the challenges presented by Cambridge Aqua Park at Hannam’s Wake Hub near Ely in the fens. There’s a brand new inflatable obstacle course to challenge all ages (from 5 upwards) and for £20 you get an hour of fun (pretty sure our stamina wouldn’t last ten mins) plus the hire of a wet suit and lifejacket.
It’s fairly water-logged over in West Cambs, with all its beautiful lakes and the Ouse running through it, so it’s no surprise that there another two brilliant aqua parks on that side of the county. First up – South Lake Aqua Park near St Neots. It’s a similar concept – lots of bouncy inflatables on a crystal clear lake. It opened last year, having been set up in Oxfordshire previously, so is pretty new too, but is already a big hit.
Just south of St Neots, on the border with Beds is Ride Leisure Aqua Park in Wyboston. Again, it’s all about making a complete fool out of yourself on an inflatable course – this one is huge and can accommodate up to 100 people at a time, so you’re guaranteed a captive audience. If you’d prefer not to look like a right wally, you can try your hand at some more skill-based water sports here too – water skiing, wakeboarding, jetlev, jet surf and jet skiing.
Now for something a little tamer if you’ve got tiny ones in tow – the good old splash park. If this summer gets its act together, a visit to one of your local water parks is a must. Let’s start with one just over the border in Royston. Lovely Priory Memorial Gardens has a less tranquil corner, with a fabulous water park that was a massive hit in last year’s heatwave – seriously, you could hear the squeals of delight from the A505. There’s a May pole, interactive water streams and play streams for mini mudders to get acquainted with, as well as nearby toilets and easy access to town for a quick bite afterwards.
In Cambridge town itself, there’s Cherry Hinton Water Play Area in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall. It has two paddling pools with gentle water shelves and a max depth of 0.4m – so you can take babies and toddlers and even be able to relax a bit yourself. It’s open from May – Sept and there’s an adjoining tennis court and picnic area to enjoy while the kids dry off. It’s also dog-friendly (although we reckon some parents might raise an eyebrow if your four-legged friend starts cooling down in the paddling pool too!).
Just north of the city at Coleridge Recreation Ground there’s another splashpad to enjoy. There’s a shallow paddling pool with sprinklers and a tractor-themed play piece, as well as a lovely playground, all of which has recently been refurbished.
Finally there’s the Abbey Park splashpad, just off Newmarket Road, near the Cambridge football stadium. This one was redone in 2014 so is in pretty good nick and features a variety of ground jets, along with a Dumping Bucket and Water Canons. There’s also a Toddler Bay to cater for the smaller children with some calmer spray features to provide a gentle introduction to waterplay.