If you’ve seen the iconic photo of the Wild Things gate at Rushmere Country Park I’m sure your interest has been piqued. But what you might not realise is there’s so much more to see and enjoy in this Bedfordshire country park. And best of all, it’s a free day out.
One of the Best Parks in Befordshire
We spent the whole day at Rushmere Country Park. Nova (3) and Kit (1) absolutely loved it, as did we.
It’s made up of over 400 acres of beautiful woodland and meadows, so it’s huge. The majority of this park is flat and is pretty easy to navigate, so it’s ideal for families. Take the buggy, the scooter, the bike (or the lot like us) as you can push or ride them with ease. That said, the hill at the end is a bit of a work out with a buggy!
Be prepared for little ones to abandon them or to beg to leave the buggy. The fun of this park is just all too inviting. You never make it more than a few steps before there are giant chairs to climb on, playgrounds to enjoy, realistic fairy doors to knock on and magical looking low-branch trees to clamber over. It’s nature’s awesome playground.
Recommended Reading: Emberton Country Park (30 Minutes from Northampton)
Rushmere Country Park Fairy Doors
As soon as you leave the car park and hit the main track you’ll spy wooden fairy doors on tree trunks.
Nova and Kit were totally captivated and believed they were real, knocking on each and every single one they could reach.
Rushmere Country Park Sculpture Trail
A giant’s chair sits where this main track then forks into different directions. And for Nova and Kit that cemented their thoughts on believing this park is magical.
Nova instantly wanted a photo in the giant’s chair, whilst Kit was a little bit more apprehensive, asking where the BFG was. Too cute.
You’ll also find oak wood sculptures on your walks.
Recommended Reading: Your Guide to Stanwick Lakes (Wellingborough)
Wild Things Park
Continue walking in the same direction, with the chair on your left, and you’ll soon spy the Wild Things gate. It’s a perfect backdrop for family photos and again, keeps that enchanting forest vibe going for little ones.
Nova and Kit spent ages knocking on it, looking behind it and pretending to be giants. Around this open space you’ll also find various dens that others have made from sticks. If you’re into forest schooling, you’ll love it here.
We spent ages here adding to the existing dens, making leaf roofs and stick walls.
Recommended Reading: Your Guide to Castle Ashby (Northampton)
Walks in Bedfordshire
From here you could walk back down the main track to return to the café and playground or you could make more of a day out by going on big loop walk around Rushmere Country Park.
For the big walk, continue up in the same direction (with the Wild Things gate on your left). You’ll reach a small fence, forcing you to turn left or right. We turned right and then basically followed the track which led us in a big circle back to the car park.
Your walk will pass friendly horses, serene lakes, a small café, boggy swamps (home to the Gruffalo if you believe Nova and Kit), and take you right back to the car park.
Here you’ll find the Tree Tops café and a few playgrounds.
Recommended Reading: 30 Things to Do in Northampton
There are two main playgrounds right by the main café and car park. The bigger of the two includes an epic slide. Nova loved it and went on it a few times. Just watch out for the older kids.
The smaller playground is gated and aimed at young children. Kit loved it and Nova also enjoyed being one of the older ones, looking after his sister.
Tree Tops Café
Selling hot meals like jacket potatoes, light lunches like sandwiches and snacks, including cakes, this café has both indoor and outdoor seating. If you sit inside by the window you’ll feel like you’re sat amongst the tall trees.
As like most country park cafes, this one is on the more expensive side and I wouldn’t say the food is anything that great. In fact, my pricey sandwich arrived on the thinnest, cheapest bread possible rather than the artisan bread I was imagining. We also had to wait a good 45-minutes for our modest order when it wasn’t very busy.
That said, it is family-friendly, with highchairs and big tables. During busy periods buggies need to be left outside. You can pay by cash or card.
Recommended Reading: Over 12 of the Best Restaurants in Northampton
Cycling Rushmere Country Park
There are lots of Rushmere Country Park bike trails and if you’re into mountain biking or stunt bikes, you’ll love the downhill runs.
If you wish to use the network of cycle trails, other than the Public Bridleway, you will need a Greensand Cycle Pass.
Where is Rushmere Country Park?
It’s in Bedfordshire and around a 45-minute car journey from Northampton. You can easily make a full day of it like we did, which then justifies the travel.
The full address is Rushmere Country Park, Linslade Rd, Heath and Reach LU7 0EB. Parking is chargeable (c.£3) and you can pay by cash or card. If you plan to visit a lot, you might want to consider an annual parking pass for £40.
The Park gates open at 8.30am every morning all year round (except Christmas Day when the park is closed).
The Visitor Centre and Tree Tops Cafe are open 10am – 4pm. The cafe opens until 5pm during summer weekends and school holidays from Easter to September.
Closing times (when the gates are locked) are as follows:
- April to September 8pm
- October and March 7.30pm
- November to February 5pm
Rushmere Country Park Events
The Rushmere County Park Food Festival is one of the more popular events and normally takes place annually in September.
Other fun events include the halloween disco, tree tops talks, starry night art workshops, feeding the birds sessions and a few others.
Tips for Rushmere Country Park
- It’s not too muddy, so only bring wellies if the weather is bad.
- Bring a packed lunch if you don’t want to spend a fortune in the café
- Bring the buggy, bikes and scooters if you want to – it’s mostly flat and easy to push/ride on
- Download the map, grab one from the Visitor Centre or take a photo of the map at the start of the walk. There are a few signs en route, but it can be a little confusing and data isn’t great in the park.
- If you want to bring a BBQ use it in The Meadow (next to the main car park).
- Bring hand sanitizer – they’ll be touching everything!
Rushmere Park History
The site was originally a Georgian country estate. In the 1940s most of it was planted with pine, fir and spruce. The park is now managed by the Greensand Trust environmental charity.
Pin for later…