Hey hot stuff! Bit sweaty? Here's Muddy's pick of the best pools, river spots and watery fun to cool down in. Just add SPF.
It’s the start of the school holidays and – whoop whoop – the sun’s shown up. If we stay cooped up indoors for much longer, I predict a riot. More good news, the water parks and pools are open (or about to reopen). So here’s the Muddy-approved lowdown on all the best local spots for al fresco H2O fun. (If we’ve missed anywhere good, let us know in the comment box below please). Just make sure those bikini straps are firmly secured before you cannonball in…
Bear in mind, while lockdown is easing, there are new rules to navigate. Check the website and booking is almost always essential.
Liquid Leisure, Windsor
Home to Europe’s largest aqua park and the first Ninja Warrior UK Aqua Park, Liquid Leisure in Datchet, has long been the place to slide, bounce, jump, climb and get dumped into the water. And this year, they’ve gone all out, adding an Aqua Jungle and a junior course for ages 4+. As a mum of two boys aged 13 and five, the little man has always had to sit this one, but not any more. Inflatable obstacles not your thing? There’s more – try wake boarding, paddle boarding, the banana boat, ringo rides, open swimming or chill on the beach. It’s a whole day out of H2O fun, add it to your list. There are social distancing restrictions in place, so it’s worth checking the website before your book.
Lagoona Park, Reading
Not to be outdone, Reading also also has a water park for you to get wet and wild. Set on a 25-acre lake just off J11 of the M4, Lagoona Aqua Park, has an inflatable obstacle course (ages 8+), jet bikes (16+ to drive, 8+ passenger) and, new for 2019, dirt buggies to bezz around the perimeter of lake (must be 16+).
Thames Lido, Reading
It’s old school glamour personified. The Edwardian Thames Lido in King’s Meadow Reading is seriously fancy schmancy. Open to members and non-members (kids can use the pool Mon-Fri, 2pm-4pm). When it’s this scorchio, the lido is super busy so it’s worth booking a Swim Package which includes a meal in the seriously. No balls or bombing, but a quality pool for a dip with very low levels of chlorine. The lido reopens on Tue 21 Jul to members only. The rest of us will have to wait a little longer, or watch with envy from the restaurant.
Wycombe Rye Lido, High Wycombe
For peeps living in Maidenhead and Windsor, Wycombe Rye Lido is probably your closest al fresco outdoor pool. The lido, a 33m x 12.5m pool, reopens on Fri 17 Jul for adult lane swimmers only. You need to book and pay online in advance and you’ve got 50 minutes to waft about in the heated pool. It’s not quite the summer cool off you may have planned but dive in the water’s lovely.
Cliveden Spa, Cliveden House Hotel, Taplow
For a bit more refinement sans the offspring, strip like a Sixties show girl and loaf in luxury at Cliveden Spa. The Grade II listed pool is a stunner and the scene of Christine Keeler and John Profumo’s scandalous heavy petting. Enjoy the pretty garden from Your sun lounger and a sedate dip to cool off when you’re feeling hot hot hot. Right now the pool is only open to hotel guests. So if you fancy a dip in this show stopper, you’ll need to plash some cash and get a room.
Bray Lake Watersports, Bray
Bray Lake has it all going on – beautiful location and the largest independent water sports club in the country offering kids clubs and more water sports than you can paddle at. Learn to windsurf, sail, paddleboard or enjoy open swimming. They also run brilliant kids holidays courses. Drag them away from the tech and sign ’em up during the summer break. They’ll learn a brilliant skill and love the outdoors.
Dinton Activity Centre, Wokingham
Always wanted to join the Boaty McBoatfaces of Berkshire, messing about on the water? You don’t need a Lotto win, just the ability to have a laugh. Throughout the summer, Dinton Activity Centre‘s running taster sessions in kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing. The taster sesh costs £20, pre-booking is essential and it’s suitable for adults, families and over 8s.
Wellington Country Park, Riseley
Pitch up at Wellington Country Park and let the kids run wild. There’s 350 acres to explore, hiding dinosaurs, train rides, epic slides and a splash zone. It’s particularly great for little ones, but I think if you’re hot enough the big kids and adults won’t mind a drenching. There’s always loads going on from fair, pixie and pirate weekends plus the big inflatable takeover. Great place to go in the summer hols.
California Country Park, Wokingham
A supersized paddling pool that beats your teeny tiny garden inflatable any day of the week. California Country Park has plenty to keep everyone entertained for a day out. There’s a small extra charge for this, but it’s not expensive. Situated next to the pool is a shady woodland play area, there’s also a café and a larger playground too. Picnic, go for a wander. It’s a place to chill and keep your cool.
MESS ABOUT ON THE RIVER
No need to over exert yourself. Hire a boat from Kris Cruisers in Datchet and pootle down the Thames or head to the spires of Oxford and punt from Magdalen Boat House, Folly Bridge or Cherwell Boathouse – the riverside restaurant at the latter is lovely, plus it’s slightly cheaper and less touristy. Wild swimmers, meanwhile, should head to Pangbourne a stretch of the Thames so magical it inspired Wind In The Willows and Three Men In A Boat or Colne Brook in Wraysbury. Then there’s Bucklebury Ford, a favourite with my kids, for a paddle. No frills, outdoorsy fun when the sun shines.
Need sun, sea and sand? Here’s 9 beaches less than two hours from Berkshire.