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Just an averagely ok day out sadly
Wellington Country Park (Riseley)
Member Name: azana
Wellington Country Park (Riseley)
Date: 17/02/09, updated on 17/02/09 (387 review reads)
Advantages: run off your children's excess energy
Disadvantages: a bit tired looking (the park not the children)
It is half term (Feb 2009), and I have just come back from a trip to Wellington Country Park. Due to a low boredom threshold (me not the kids), I do tend to go on days out as much as I can, always armed with a picnic and ready to make the most of wherever I go.
The park was set up in 1974 apparently "by the Eighth Duke and Duchess of Wellington, who wished to provide a destination where the growing population of the Thames Valley could enjoy outdoor pursuits, discover natural history and develop an interest in the countryside." I am not sure that for me it quite fulfilled this role.
To be fair to the Park, my visit was at the start of the season, and it was a colder than forecast day, however I wasn't overly impressed but what was on offer. I have been before in high Summer where the strange sight of a Husky rally kept us all entertained, but nonetheless today's visit had an air of out of season seaside about it and I am not sure that I enjoyed it more than I would have enjoyed a trip to any free park or a woodland walk, certainly it didn't live up to the "come join in the fun" that features prominently on the front of the 2009 guide.
Children under 3 are free, but adults pay £6.50 and children 3-15 pay £5.50. I managed to get 20 percent off this price by using a voucher from www.discountbritain.net. A family ticket is £21.50.
What is there to do?
I can see that on a sunny day you could while away a day at the park. There is a large lake and 350 acres of grounds and nature trails. I am sorry to say that the rest of the attractions look a bit tired. I can see that they have tried to spruce things up but some of the areas were disappointing.
There was a sand pit full of dirty sand and a couple of broken toys which perhaps will be cleaned for more summery weather, the playgrounds were alright, but not as good as some municipal parks I have been to in all honesty. I think local authorities have probably invested a lot of money in park equipment in recent years, I could see that they had tried to make distinct play areas for toddlers and adventure areas but they weren't really that good.
There is a little train, which is lovely, but involved another £1 each for me and my daughters to have a ride. There was a crazy golf but it was water logged at the time of my visit, there was a water play area which was so-so and a digger area which had 3 play diggers, hardly very many and I would imagine at peak times there is probably all out kid war over these, likewise the one lonely old tractor that there was to sit on.
There was a giant dinosaur randomly placed on our walk round the lake which appeared to be pink - I think as it had worn down to the undercoat, in any case very strange. I think that more investment is probably needed in the play equipment, also the "animal corner" is billed as opening in 2009 but was nowhere near opening, when you look at the website it isn't very clear that it is closed.
The park probably is a good place for walks and seeing nature, however it is pretty expensive for this when there are other places nearby that are absolutely free to visit and arguably better, like Windsor great park or California country park. Nearby Beale park (near Reading) is actually a similar price and has far far more to see and do with up to date play facilities and lots of animals.
the park boasts a number of special events such as concerts in the summer and family fun days. You can see what is on at www.wellington-country-park.co.uk Whilst we were there there was a clown who was performing at 11 and 1, apparently he was quite good but we arrived at 11.05 and by 12.40 we had had enough, which says a lot.
The food at the cafe looked good and was reasonably priced with a hot meal being about £6. There was also a range of jacket potatoes and sandwiches which looked tasty.
Overall as you have probably guessed I wouldn't rush back. My children had an ok time, but in these current times I expect a bit more for my money. If you are local to the park or have 2 or more under 3's then it is probably better value, they are introducing a new season ticket which may be worthwhile if it is on your doorstep. The park should be on your "filling the Summer holidays" list, but I think could be a lot better than it actually is which is a great pity.
Wellington Country Park, Odiham Road, Riseley, Near Reading,
Berkshire, RG7 1SP
Summary: I won't be rushing back, sorry
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