A short while back my bestfriend and her nearly 3 year old son (my godson) came to visit for the weekend. After a fleeting visit round the corner to Upton House on the Saturday, she was heading back up east to her parents’ on the Sunday, so we decided to head out for the day in that direction.
N’s a bit obsessed with conkers although he’s now transferred his attention to sweet chestnuts as well. I think he got a bit confused when we decided to head for a day trip to the place Conkers after some recommendations from friends.
It’s about an hour’s drive from me – or would have been if I’d listened to my sat nav instead of thinking ‘Leicester direction, M69 and ignoring it’. Although it was a dry Sunday, the car park was fairly empty when we arrived about an hour after it opened.
Conkers is a Discovery Centre in the National Forest, set in acres of countryside. There’s an indoor discovery area which we fleetingly wandered round but headed quickly outside to investigate and work out what we wanted to see.
The boys straightaway wanted a ride on the train, so we got on (free!) for the brief ride to the playground area.
The playground is great because it’s enclosed, and caters for both toddlers through to older children who’re able to climb high.
N and O were happy enough on the lower equipment, until they decided they wanted to try the bigger climbing towers and rope bridges. N of course, wimped out of going higher up to try the slides, so they pottered for a bit before we found our way to the next thing.
We headed to the amphitheatre to try out the wobby bridges behind it. While everything is great for children, you do need to keep an eye on younger children because there are drops down to water or just ground that only a rope or cord as a walking guide prevents you falling down.
The boys thought the bridge was brilliant and had a couple of stomps around.
By just wandering around the site you can find a whole lot of activities and places to explore. We checked out the willow swamp.
The fairy labyrinth
And the extremely high rope bridge after a bit of a meltdown from little O who didn’t want to walk and refused to come with us. We just left him to it as we could see him and hear him. I loved the way an older family wandered past us and him saying ‘We’ve done that before too’ in empathy. Next thing we knew another family who’d already noticed and said ‘there’s a lost baby there’, to which my friend had told them he was hers and perfectly fine, and to ignore him, then wandered over to him, picked him up and carried him back to us. Why on earth they interfered is beyond me when we’d already told them that he was fine and not too. Grr, people shouldn’t interfere in a tantrum case.
Eventually he decided to stop crying of his own accord and we all headed over to walk across the rope bridge. N and I had already walked over (oops, it said adults and teens only because it was part of the activity trail), but we couldn’t say no to the kids and we’d already seen another toddler walk over with her dad.
N wanted to go over again with O and my friend, so I was able to get some photos of how high it really was. N managed the bridge perfectly, then fell over a post walking back to me, so there were a few more tears.
Next stop was the Sensory Trail. This is within one of the woods, and is simply some boxes that you can put your hands in and guess what you’re feeling. N was moaning that he didn’t want to take part, but we persuaded him and O’s excitement was catching, and soon N was running off to the next box to get there first.
Once we’d got our fill, we decided lunch was on the cards. The choice in the café is pretty limited, but luckily there wasn’t a queue and we were able to get a kids lunchbox for N, a sandwich for O and loaded chilli nachos for us adults. They were mammoth but definitely worth the money. The prices weren’t too bad for an attraction, and N was allowed to have an ice lolly afterwards.
Just before setting off home N wanted a go in the water play area so he had some fun pumping the water through and damming it up again. Thankfully no falling in, and no wet clothes either.
A final walk through the centre inside and the boys had a good run around on a light display on the floor which was falling leaves and by running on it, they could clear the leaves. Great fun, and so amusing to see how the different ages met the challenge. Toddler just runs backwards and forwards, while N at nearly 5 would run through it, then run round the edges to make sure all the leaves were cleared up.
We had a lovely day out at Conkers. It was a nice warm Autumn day, there was plenty to see and do, lots of exercise with all the walking, and more to see should we come back another time.
Have you been to Conkers? Or do you similar places near you?