May 19, 2021

Our family visit to Conkers *Review*

On a wet and miserable May bank holiday we took a 40 minute drive to Conkers, a Midlands attraction that has been on my radar for some time now.  Despite the rain and it not being the warmest bank holiday we were still excited to see what Conkers had on offer and we love to explore and experience new adventures whatever the weather.  Let’s face it, we live in Britain and therefore we’re susceptible to ever changing climates!

Where is Conkers?

Conkers is located in the Heart of the National Forest.  There are two areas to Conkers, The Discovery Centre which is located in Derbyshire, Moira and then Waterside, which is in Swadlincote.  You can access these two areas during you visit by a small train so there is no need to visit the two locations via car.  We headed to the Discovery Centre car park where you can park for free and entered Conkers via this entrance.  There was ample car parking spaces and when arriving, you’ll be taken into the Discover centre where tickets are checked at reception.

Swamp sign at Conkers

What is at Conkers?

Conkers is the perfect family outdoor day out, set over 120 acres through the Heart of the National Forest.  With adventure playgroups, a huge lake, mazes, an activity trail and even a running train, this place really will keep you and your children busy for a full day!  There was lots on offer and we were very excited to get stuck in.  But first, on arrival we were given a map and guide, plus the option to book onto paid activities.  The choice of paid activities was:

– Go Karts (Pedal Karts)

– Hi Ropes

– Lo Ropes

– Kata Canoeing

– Archery

(Please check the website before your visit to check what activities are running)

Immediately our 10 year old wanted to book Pedal Karts so at £4 per person, my husband and eldest booked on for a set time.  As we arrived at 10am and the booked session was at 10.45am we decided to have a little wander before heading straight there.  As we meandered around the lake, I had the welcoming feeling of being at Centre Parcs, which I just love!

A huge bug house within the woodlands at Waterside

As we left the Discovery Centre and walked out on to the lake the kids spotted the first adventure play area, complete with a sand pit and diggers (much to my four year olds delight!)  We shortly left to find the Go Karts.  With the signage lacking for this activity we had to ask where it was located and realised that it was over on Waterside meaning we needed to get the Conkerchoo train (again the kids were happy!)

Conkerchoo Train arriving into the station at Conkers

The Conkeroo Train

The driver was very friendly and the train rive was lots of fun – and smooth!  It took about 5 minutes to travel from one area to the other.  It’s worth a note that there is no charge for the Conkerchoo train and you can hop on and off as many times as you like!  A perfect feature for both adults and children!

My family on the Conkeroo Train at Conkers

Go Karts (Pedal Karts to be precise!)

We realised when we arrived at the activity that it wasn’t quite what we were expecting and instead it was pedal karts (which was not stated on the booking activity list!)  We were not bothered either way and managed to laugh off the confusion, before they were off on a 45 minute trail around Conkers on their pedal karts.

Pedal Karts in action at Conkers Waterside

Whilst they were off exploring I took my two youngest to a huge play area called Play Adventure park, complete with a zip wire, assault course and slides galore just next to the train station.  This play are is worth a visit if you have children of all ages and want to please them all.

Adventure play area at Waterside Conkers

Zipline at Conkers

It’s worth a note that they thought the pedal karts were fantastic and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, with it being excellent value too!

Waterside, Conkers

As we were over at the Waterside, we decided to explore this area first before heading back on the train.  The heavens had opened so we took shelter in the huge tepee where it just so happened they were about to begin an Alice in Wonderland Show which was great fun (and kept us dry from the rain!)  We then explored the forest, following trails and coming across the Wonky bridges, tree top trail and even an indoor craft centre!

Alice in Wonderland Show at Waterside Conkers

Wobbley Bridges at Waterside Conkers in the rain

Discovery, Conkers

Barefoot Adventure

We immediately headed to the barefoot adventure as I’ve been keen to try out one of these for a while.  Now admittedly, we didn’t take off our shoes (which I know defeats the object of the trail) however as it was super muddy, wet and we didn’t have any towels, we decided to keep out wellies on.

Barefoot Walk at Conkers Review

That doesn’t mean we didn’t thoroughly enjoy the barefoot trail!  It was fantastic and went on for what felt like a long time.  The kids thought it was fantastic too!

Kids loving the barefoot walk at Conkers

The Activity Trail

Now this was where it was at!  This was absolutely brilliant and at every new activity we came to I was pleasantly surprised!  There was a huge netted bridge that looked brand new which was super high which the kids loved with a vertical slide to finish off and the narrow balance bridge was also lots of fun.  As it was a damp day, Conkers was rather quiet and therefore we were able to enjoy these attractions without having to queue or share with anyone else!

Activity trail at conkers

Activity trail at conkers

 

Exploring Conkers

The grounds are really huge here and despite the above attractions, we also visited the Viewing tower, maze, sensory trail and admired the lake and it’s swans.  There is also the newest attraction called The Warrens, which is based on a rabbit burrow.  Complete with tunnels and underground passages, it looked fantastic from a distance, but due to Covid, I think it was closed to the public which was a shame.

Despite the fact we didn’t book onto the hi or lo ropes, we admired the brave people taking part and vowed to return so the kids can do it next time.

Hi and Lo Ropes at Conkers

Pond Dipping at Willow Swamp

We finished off our visit with a quick walk through the swamp only to be greeted by a member of staff who was helping the children do pond dipping.  The kids grabbed their nets and had a little go on the small jetty’s that overlooked the small pond.  It was lovely and the lady who assisted us was very helpful.

pond dipping at Willow Swamp Conkers Review

Top Tips when visiting Conkers

– Wear comfortable footwear, and if its raining, wear wellies

– Don’t be afraid to go on a wet day, its a lot quieter

– Parking is free

– There are free attractions and some set free attractions such as arts and crafts and shows during the day which will be listed.

– There are also paid for attractions which you’ll have to book at reception on arrival or pre-book at the Conkers website.

– There is a restaurant that serves hot and cold meals both at Waterside and at The Discovery Centre.  They also serve coffee and cold drinks.

– There are toilets both at Waterside and Discovery Centre including baby changing facilities.

– There is a small shop when exciting Conkers with an area sharing what the area was used for prior to it becoming Conkers which was interesting.

– Conkers also hold birthday parties and other bookable sessions.

Overall we had a wonderful wet day at Conkers and we will 100% be back to experience the hi and lo ropes next time!  My kids were tired and muddy which in my eyes, shows a great day had by all!  We all need some fresh air, and this place is perfect to grab that, surrounded by nature and fun activities!

Have you been to Conkers?

 

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About

Hi and welcome to The Willow Tree. I’m Michelle, also known as Shel and I am a mama to three beautiful crazy kids – I have two handsome boys and a wild and wonderful girl.

I really wanted a concrete place to share my love for travel, in particular Disney and offer my readers a chance to gain some knowledge around what we love to do as a family of 5.

I share our family adventures which include days out, travel advice and tips, holiday reviews, restaurant visits and of course, our love for Disney, including Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World.

Life is about creating memories, and here we are sharing them with you

xoxo

 

 

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