One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is that with my little one at 26 months (who knows where that time has gone) I find that on my days off with him I am more often than not re-visiting the same places over and over again. Whilst theses usual haunts are fantastic, i know that there must be loads of yet to be explored places right on my doorstep that i don’t even realise are there.
Walton Hall and Gardens is a good example of this. I was told about this place by a neighbour and what a find! It is only a 25 minute drive from Northwich (or 45 minutes if like me you think you know better than the sat nav and then have to admit defeat and re-trace your steps).
Situated on the outskirts of Warrington (quite easy to get to from the M56) this place offers 32 acres of parkland and formal gardens. There is a fantastic play park designed for children under 6 (there is also a separate play park for older children), there is a small zoo, gardens to explore, huge lawns for picnic and ball games. And the best bit? This place is free! All you have to pay is £3 for an all day parking ticket (weekends and bank holidays it is £4).
We headed straight for the play park with an aim for trying to run off some of that toddler energy. The play area was fantastic. It looked like all of the equipment was brand new and it was perfect for my little one as he could get on all of the apparatus without any help from me. The park also looked really clean and well looked after. There are toilet facilities as part of the playground complex.
There was a good variety of play equipment from swings, roundabouts, tunnels, numerous slides, see-saws and even a fantastic musical section where you could hit different tubes and pipes that made various notes. There is a large grassed area next to the play park so in warmer weather it would be great to take a picnic and let the children play.
We next headed to the little zoo to see who was at home there. For a small park they have a lot of animals to see, with sheep, pigs, rabbits, squirrels, chickens, ponies and donkeys all there. There were even a little family of Alpacas – so soft to touch.
There was also a lot of peacocks, all waving their brightly coloured tails in the air. Little E was so fascinated by the bright colours he got a bit too close and got the shock of his life when the bird let out a very loud high-pitched shriek right next to him. He gave every peacock he came across from then on a wide berth – I just hope it doesn’t leave him with a life long fear of them (he jumped so high – it was so loud!!).
We had a wander around the formal gardens which were really pretty (and really quiet). There were colourful flowers everywhere and E had good fun running up and down the paths and every now and then stopping to smell a flower.
We headed to the cafe for lunch. It is open Monday to Friday 10:30 – 15:00 and weekends 10:30 to 15:30. They offered basic lunch options (i had a warm sausage roll) and there were a selection hot drinks. There were also a couple of cake options (we shared a brownie). The cafe is situated in what could be a pretty courtyard (just felt a bit run down) we had our dinner outside on one of the picnic benches (i had brought Thomas his own food). I was a bit disappointed with the cafe to be honest. There could be a lot more food options and definitely more cake choices. It is really missing a trick and could be fantastic, it just felt a bit unloved.
All in all we had a fantastic morning – we were there for about 3 hours. If you had a picnic and went with a big group of people you could probably make a day of it. In addition at weekends i think there is a small train that runs around the grounds which E would have loved and there is a small mini golf course too which could be fun (i think both of these have an additional charge.) We took our pram and had no problem at all getting around the park – mostly tarmac paths. I have been told that the park can get very busy at weekends and during school holidays.
So glad we were told about this place – we will definitely be coming back again soon. If anyone has any suggestions on places they love to visit with their family in the Cheshire area (or beyond) please get in touch and let me know about it.