Stanwick Lakes is a gorgeous family-friendly spot in Northamptonshire. Set just off the A45 near Rushden Lakes (a great place for shopping and a bite to eat), it’s a perfect chance to enjoy the outdoors.
Stanwick Lakes – Things to do at
Stanwick Lakes is great for a budget family day out and there are loads of things to do. Bet you can guess which one is my water babies’ favourite! You’ll find lots of information below, including what’s on offer, prices and opening times.
The huge wooden playground is a hit with my mini-explorers, mainly because of the water element. Shallow water weaves through various puddles, chutes and buckets to create a fun splash area. In the summer stick swimwear on your little ones and let them cool down in the water. In the cooler months I’d recommend an all-in-one splash suit as it can get a little muddy. Whenever you go I’d definitely suggest a pair of sandals or trainers for them and to take a towel.
Even if your kids aren’t into water play, the playground is still loads of fun. There’s a sandpit, slides of various heights, lots of stuff for imaginative play (the pirate ship is always popular) and the usual things, like swings.
We often take a picnic to enjoy on the nearby grassy hills and spend the whole day here. There’s a nearby toilet and snack stand selling ice creams, and the visitors centre which houses the cafe isn’t too far away at all. You can even take advantage of the dedicated BBQ area just behind the playground. The delicious smells always linger in the air and make me very jealous!
Entry to the playground is free and there’s no need to book. It gets quite busy on super hot days and there’s not too much shade. The site opens from 7am – 9pm from March to October and 7am – 5pm from November to February, but check their Facebook page ahead of your visit as sometimes the timings vary for maintenance. Parking is chargeable, starting from £2.60.
If you want to burn a bit more energy and to enjoy more of the scenery I’d recommend the Adventure Trail. It basically takes you around one of the prettiest parts of the area, including four playground pitstops along the way. The kids can enjoy things like the zipline, treehouse hideaways and a rope bridge, whilst you may be lucky enough to spy a local kingfisher or deer.
The paths are surfaced so they’re great for pushchairs, scooters, bikes and whatever else your little one has brought with them! You’ll also find picnic spots along the route.
Talking of walks, there are various routes around and along the lakes spanning 7 miles, and you’ll usually see various art installations on the way. You’ll find a map onsite, though it’s pretty self explanatory if you fancy winging it. Dogs are welcome on the paths, so long as they’re kept on a lead. Nova loves spying all the dogs, as does Kit!
Alternatively, 45 minute health walks take place every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Nordic walking classes take place on certain Mondays in the month. You can also pick up an orienteering kit from the visitors shop for £4.95 if that’s more your thing.
If you’re into history, you’ll probably enjoy the Heritage Trail. Six stones mark historical settlements, so basically if you stand in front of the stones and look over the top, you will be viewing the location of one of the original settlements.
You can hire a bike at Stanwick Lakes. The hut is right by the car park and offers mountain bikes, trailers, kid’s bikes and more. It’s pretty cheap, with kid’s bikes starting at £4 per hour. If you book ahead you can get a discount too. Most of the tracks and paths are flat, so pretty kind to little legs. You can find up to date rates and opening times here.
Stanwick Lakes Cinema
During the summer months Stanwick Lakes is often home to open air cinema showings. This year I watched The Greatest Showman and it was so good! Tickets usually pop up on Facebook via the events tab, so keep an eye out or watch the What’s On page.
Feeling crafty? There are lots of craft courses that are hosted at Stanwick Lakes. From blacksmithing to willow reindeer making, you can find out more here.
If you’ve got slightly older kids or you fancy a bit of exercise you might want to try the free assault course. There are tunnels, rope challenges, monkey bar tests and more. You’ll find it a five-minute walk from the Visitor’s Centre.
Visitor’s Centre (Cafe, Soft Play and Gift Shop)
The Visitor’s Centre is home to Cafe Solar, where you can enjoy a baked potato, sandwiches and other bits. It’s a little pricey, but nice nevertheless. There’s a small inside play area for little ones, so you can attempt to at least eat a bit of your lunch! Alternatively, you can sit outside on the decking which overlooks the lake. Food is usually served from 10am – 5pm.
The centre also has a cute gift shop that often has some quite unique things, as well as toilets.
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The postcode for Sat Nav directions is NN9 6GY.