“ Adventure trail / Location: The Crocky Trail Ltd, Cotton Abbotts, Waverton, Chester, CH3 7PH. „
We Went to the Crocky Trail today. It's at Cotton Abbots near Chester. Well signposted off the A41 and we found it with no problem. It is a completely unique place....totally unlike the Americanised banality of theme parks in the UK today with their wall to wall burger joints and terrible service.
The Crocky Trail is part adventure playground, part trail with lots of activities for kids and adults to enjoy. Myself and my partner took our two daughters who are both aged 10 years. I think they are pretty much the perfect age for the Crocky Trail as there was nothing they couldn't do and just a few things which were definitely aimed at younger visitors. There were children of every age there today and as we drove through the gates we could hear squeals and screams of laughter coming from the Roundabout which was a large roundabout that loads of kids could climb onto and then got thrown off as it spun round. This sounds a lot worse than it is as they sort of slide down the roundabout on rubber sheeting until they get to the bottom.
We parked the car and the girls ran off in the direction of the large slides of which there were 5 with a few smaller ones for younger children. The slides were really high and really steep although all slightly different. The children had mats to sit on as they went down them. The screams of delight and the expressions on the girls' faces as they flew down the slides were fantastic to observe. As soon as they reached the bottom of the slide they raced straight back up the stairs for another go.
One of the most entertaining attractions for us as parents were the Spider Traps. These were long narrow enclosures set at a steep angle with slippery flooring which the children had to attempt to climb up after they had slid to the bottom. It was really funny to watch them trying all sorts of tactics to get to the top only to slide back down to the bottom again. I don't hesitate to admit that I would never have been able to get up the slope and would have had to spend the rest of the day trapped until being rescued!
Another big hit was Titanic where everybody clambers up to the back of a large slide and it gradually raises up making people slide off and then starts shaking so everybody eventually slides down. I saw lots of different tactics being used to hang on for as long as possible!
It is worth being aware that the Crocky Trail is not a pristine, beautiful fairytale like park....this is no Disneyland! The rides/attractions are rusty, look ancient and are all in need of a good lick of paint but to me that adds to its charm. It is not trying to be something it isn't. It offers children a fantastic opportunity to run around, have fun, fall over, get muddy and do all the things we used to do as children before the advent of computers, facebook and the dreaded X Box!
We spent about an hour or so in the first couple of areas with the girls swinging, spinning, sliding and screaming and then we decided to follow the trail. It is worth bearing in mind that if you have younger children.....probably below about 8 ....then you will need to keep a very close eye on them at this stage because the trail does have some challenging parts which they may not be quite up to doing. The trail basically follows both sides of a stream and there are numerous ways of crossing the stream and various things to play on and explore as you go round. You can choose if you want to cross a bridge or not and you can cross back over if you want to too. There were a few bridges that not even my intrepid and almost fearless daughter fancied attempting but that is why it is so good for older children too.
There is even a jailhouse halfway around where Dads can be locked up by their children but really clever dads may find a way to escape!
We spent about four hours there today but could easily have spent longer and gone around the trail again. There is a very reasonably priced snacks and drinks place where you can get pasties, chocolate, ice creams, cans and hot drinks etc and loads of tables and chairs to sit and eat. They don't mind you taking in your own picnics and there are toilets available
I would think it isn't a great place to go when it's raining as it would become really muddy very quickly and you are outdoors for most of the activities. However our daughters had a fantastic time, running around outdoors, tackling challenges that scared them and feeling proud when they managed to do them. The great thing about The Crocky Trail is that parents and children have fun together and create memories by having good old fashioned fun!
The admission price was £10 per person and I think it was well worth it because we had such a fun filled day.....just planning our next trip now!
The Crocky Trail is well signposted and thus easy to find just off the A41, near Chester. You drive in and pay before parking your car (I am happy to report that since the last reviewer visited, there is now the facility to pay by credit card), and then head off to the main activity area at the start of the trail. Once you have exhausted the options there, you set off on a circular walk which runs alongside a ditch, effectively skirting the outside of a big field, before ending up back where you started.
The best part of the experience from the kids' point of view is definitely the initial play area - there are a number of slides and activities which are really quite fun for all ages, although it was a shame that some people chose to ignore the signs asking for the mats provided to be used on the slides, as this led to them getting marked and thus not being as fast as they would have been. After you start the walk, there are a number of situations when you can clamber across the ditch on various different bridges, or use the path. There are also some swings and roundabouts dotted along the trail.
Overall I would say that my kids enjoyed it, as we were there for around four hours. There were also a lot of dogs there, so I suspect that they enjoy it too, and it is quite a good way of combining fun for the kids with exercise for all the family. However the biggest drawback for me was the price - I really do feel that £10 per person (under 5s free) is way too much for what it offers, even in a day and age when entertaining your children is often an expensive business. Although adults can go on some of the slides etc., it really is a kids playground (and one which I would suggest is only really suitable for under 12s), so to pay that much to walk around a field does seem somewhat exhorbitant. I know it never happens anywhere, but I would almost rather pay slightly more for the kids and have adults let in free, or at least some sort of family ticket at a slight reduction. The other main problem is that on an even slightly busy day, with everyone following the same trail, you are faced with waits to get on the swings etc, and unless you are very thick-skinned, you tend to limit your kids to a brief go to ensure that the queue behind them does not build! Either that, or the activities which you can share end up overcrowded, meaning that the enjoyment factor is diminished.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the food on offer to buy onsite is very limited, so a good picnic (and good weather!) is essential - however there is a large picnic area set aside for this, with tables and chairs etc.
So overall I would say that the concept is a good one, but it is definitely overpriced for what is on offer.
The Crocky Trail is an adventure playground, suitable not only for children but for adults too!
* Location *
The Crocky Trail is located in Cotton Abbotts, Chester, Cheshire. We did get slightly lost when arriving by car, but overall it wasn't too bad finding it (we came from Liverpool).
* Prices *
I thought the prices were very expensive, and should have been quite a lot lower for what the trail was. One word of warning, when we went, credit cards weren't accepted - but we had no idea. We didn't have enough cash on us to cover the prices of the four of us (two adults, two children). We were lucky in that we were allowed in on the condition that my sister didn't go on any of the rides, which was fine, as she wasn't planning to any way.
It is £10 per person, and under 5's go free.
* The Course *
The first part of the Crocky trail was made up of a variety of different rides and obstacles. We're not talking Alton Towers though; the "rides" are basically made out of bits of junk (okay, a bit of an exaggeration). This didn't affect mine or my kids enjoyment (the rides were lots of fun), but was one of the reasons why I though the prices were far too expensive.
I know a lot of people dislike the Crocky Trail because it is pretty dangerous - it's a wonder Healthy and Safety haven't closed it down. The day we went wasn't too crowded, but if there were lots of boisterous teenagers around, the rides would be overcrowded and dangerous. There are plenty of opportunities to fall off things, get whacked, slip, ect, but as long as you tell your kids to be careful and watch them, it shouldn't hopefully be too bad.
Make sure to wear old clothes you don't mind getting wet and muddy, and possibly ripped. The rides and obstacles aren't clean, and may fall in the river later on in the Trail!
I will describe some of the rides below, to give you an idea of what sort of things to expect.
- The Titanic -
This was my kid's favourite. It starts off as a slightly raised long platform, made of this very slippy black plastic material. Everyone goes to the very back and sits down, and then the Titanic begins to rise. It is basically a slide that becomes steeper and steeper and steeper. Soon you can't hold on any more, and slide off to the bottom. The idea is to stay on as long as possible. Anyone still left on when the ride reaches its highest point gets sort of flipped off, so they slide down too.
- Hamster Wheel -
Basically it is what it says, a big tyre shaped ride, once again lined with the slippy plastic. You get it in and run, trying not to fall over.
- The Death Slide -
This is a completely vertical slide. I was too scared to have a go, but the kids loved it.
There are also climbing walls, other slides, balance beams, ect. All lots of fun, and great exercise!
The next part of the Trail is a long river, with many different ways to try and cross it. Scattered along the way are rope swings, wobbly bridges and balancing logs. This where you may get wet, as it is quite easy to fall in.
You can go around the course as many times as you like. There is also a small shop at the end, selling sweets and drinks.
* Conclusion *
Overall, the Crocky Trail is worth a visit, especially if you like assault courses and that kind of thing. A great chance to be a kid again.