Feeling hot? 25 places to cool down in Herts & Beds
Hey hot stuff! Bit sweaty? Secure those bikini straps and dive in to one of these watery oases. Just add sunscreen!
Ok, so we can’t boast about beaches in Herts and Beds (it doesn’t get much further from the coast, sob!) but there are still plenty of places to chill out in the water this summer without having to sweat it out in the car for hours. Here’s the Muddy-approved lowdown on all the best local spots for H2O-based fun, from high-octane waterparks to lovely lidos and squeal-y good splash parks.
Seeking a bit of aquatic-fuelled adrenaline? At Lee Valley Regional Park, (a 26-mile long, 10,000 acre recreational space, which follows the River Lee and spans London, Essex and Herts), there’s no shortage of water-based fun to be found. Take on the rapids with some white water rafting, canoeing, hydrospeeding (turbo powered surf boarding), or tubing at the White Water Centre. If you prefer taking life at a more leisurely pace try your hand at kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, (SUP is all the rage if you didn’t know), sailing or hire a rowboat or pedalo and mess about on the water.
At Ride Leisure, Wyboston Lakes on the Beds/Cambs border, you can add wakeboarding, jetskiing and powerboating into the mix. Plus something called JetLev, where you basically get attached to a water canon and fired into the air (my husband, a bona fide adrendaline junkie is a fan!) There’s an awesome aqua park here too, with trampolines, slides, balance beams and climbing walls, too – get an hour of boundless fun for under twenty quid.
Got a wannabe Ninja Warrior in the family? Head to Box End Aqua Park in Bedford, which has the world’s first Lake Ninja course. There’s also an epic water slide, overhead cable tows for wakeboarding (see the pros in action at the National Championship this weekend, 12-13 July!), and open water swimming sessions. There’s even a beach zone where you can pull up a deckchair on the sandy lake side and reeeeelax.
In Herts, there’s the Rickmansworth Aquadrome – a nature reserve with two man-made lakes for watersports, and it’s got a fab café too – no soggy sarnies in sight! – as well as Stanborough Park Watersports Centre, which is well set-up for those wanting to try out the more sedate aqua activities, like sailing, rafting and kayaking. And check out the 120-acre Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage, which boasts four connected lakes – one of which is dedicated to fishing, sailing, wind surfing, kayaking, power boating, and dragon boat racing. There’s also a fun aqua park for the littlies.
H2O Rampage in Ware looks as much of a blast as it sounds. With access to the aquapark you can give the inflatable obstacle course a run for its money, or book in for a little open water swimming (previous experience required). Alternatively enjoy a more tranquil Stand-Up-Paddleboard yoga session.
On the borders, we’ve got in Willen Lake in Milton Keynes which makes for a great day trip and you can try every kind of water sport going, or just drift around on a pedalo. Plus, check out Aqua Splash inflatable obstacle Course in Sawbridgeworth on the Herts/Essex border.
In North Herts little ones can have a whale of a time at Howard Park and Gardens, Letchworth, with its 120m paddling pool and water jets (10am – 6pm). The offering at Bancroft Recreation Ground in Hitchin includes a pirate ship and tipping buckets. Plus you’ll find a fun splash pad at Baldock’s Avenue Park, and a May pole and play streams at Royston’s Priory and Memorial Gardens.
Cassiobury Park in Watford is operating a booking system at the splash parks at the moment to comply with COVID rules. There are two pools, plus 30 state-of-the-art splash pads, water jets, and fountains. The Verulamium Splash Park in St Albans is also operating a booking system – get in there quickly to nab a 45 min slot! This month sees the opening of the splash pad and splash park at Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead, too.
Over in Milton Keynes Willen Lake has one of the UK’s largest splash parks, Splash’n’Play, with 60 water features suitable for kids up to 13.
Prefer to just laze about on a sunlounger? Luckily, we’re pretty well off for lidos in our neck of the woods. For starters, in Herts there’s Hitchin’s glorious 50-metre pool, complete with sunbathing terrace (can we sneak a Piña Colada in?). If you’re feeling a bit more active, you can sign up to one of the AquaFit classes or take kiddies to the Adult and Toddler sessions.
Also ‘one of the best outdoor pools in Hertfordshire’ is Letchworth Pool, where you can kick back on the grass with an ice cream and a good book.
Check out Priory Lido in Ware, too, which dates back to 1934 – don’t worry, it’s been spruced up since then and had a major refurb just three years ago. Finally, in the village of Kimpton is the last remaining family-run lido in the country.
Over in Bedfordshire, there’s the charity-run Eversholt Swimming Pool, in the heart of the pretty village of the same name, which plans to open from 21 June. You can pay as you go or, if you’re a local resident, membership for the season is just £50. And if you like the idea of a lido with a local community feel, Woburn’s outdoor pool is just on the edge of the Woburn Abbey Estate (why not make it part of a day trip?), ticks all the boxes.
Have I missed any? Let me know by commenting in the box below!