Open air pools in Chester and further afield
Sure, we only get around three really hot days a year, but when they do hit then keeping the kids cool can be a challenge. The free water play area at Sandy Lane in Chester is deservedly popular with local families, but if you’re willing to travel, there are some great alternatives (old and new), perfect for a day trip adventure.
Sandy Lane Aqua Park, Chester (1.6 miles / 7 mins)
Sandy Lane Park nestles on the banks of the Dee, just a short drive from the city centre. It’s open all year round and has a small playground, a kiosk selling ice creams, lollies and drinks, completely accessible loos, a picnic area, and lovely views across the river. Open from around May to September, depending on the weather, the free water park includes around a dozen (chilly) water fountains for running through and playing in and can get very busy on sunny days – those with smaller children might want to avoid the post-school crowd. There is also a car park adjacent to the park; bear in mind that in summer 2016, some people received tickets for parking on the grass verge alongside, though the tickets were subsequently revoked.
Please note at that as at May 2018, the water runs out at around 3 pm most days, meaning that the fountains are not running after this time: visit earlier in the day if you want to be able to play in the water.
Sandy Lane water park is off Sandy Lane, Chester CH3 5UL and is open daily in summer from 11 am to 5 pm. A review of our visit to the park will be available shortly.
Marbury Pool, Northwich (9.5 miles / 24 mins)
KiC are huge fans of this gorgeous outdoor pool, which is surrounded by grass and shady trees. There is a large pool with diving boards for bigger kids, and a smaller splash pool, which often has a small slide in it, for younger children and toddlers. The grounds are well maintained and have a few benches and picnic tables – you’re welcome to bring food in with you, though there is also a small cafe which sells drinks, sweets and ice creams for reasonable prices (we once saw someone bring in takeaway pizza, and have been envious ever since).
You do have to be members, although day passes are available; please note that the pool does get very busy on hot days and members get precedence while day passes may be sold on a one in one out basis (though once you’re in, you can stay for the rest of the day). There is a number you can call to see how busy the pool is, though it may fill up while you’re on your way – it might be best not to mention it to the kids just in case, and if you don’t get in you can still explore the rest of Marbury Country Park, in which the pool is set. One final thing to note is that the pool is unheated, so can feel very cold: you will know whether this is likely to bother your children or not, though if they wear wetsuits they are unlikely to be the only ones.
The pool is in Marbury Country Park, Comberbach, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 6AT and is open daily in the summer months from noon to 7 pm (members get entry from 11 am).
Victoria Park, Widnes (20.4 miles / 32 mins)
If you fancy an alternative to Sandy Lane, Victoria Park is not too far a jaunt. It’s a huge park and as well as the water play area, not unlike Sandy Lane’s, it also features a playground, a bandstand, a cafe, a model boating lake, lots of room for picnicking, and some greenhouses with a pet corner and a butterfly house. The park also holds the Green Flag Award, which is a quality mark administered by the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign. The park is free to enter and to use.
Find it at Victoria Park Pavilion, Birchfield Road, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 7SU.
Nantwich Outdoor Brine Pool (20.5 miles /38 mins)
Nantwich Brine Pool has been open since 1935,though these days is maintained at a balmy(ish) 22 degrees or more, rather than being completely unheated as it was in days of yore. There’s a paved area around the poolside witha limited number of free sun loungers, and there are toilet and showering facilities at the poolside and indoors. The pool has become so popular during good weather that the pool will now be open twice a day, from 10.30 am to 3 pm and from 3.30 pm to 7 pm; visitors will have to leave at the end of their session, and once the pool is full it will operate on a one in one out basis.
Find it at Wall Lane, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 5LS.
Thompson Park Paddling Pool, Burnley (39.5 miles / 49 mins)
Thompson Park is famous for its flower beds and rose garden as well as one the few remaining paddling pools in the North West. The pool is usually only filled at weekends and during the school holidays between April and September when the weather is good, but may be filled on other days in hot spells – call the Ranger Service on 01282 831053 to check before you visit. There’s also a sandpit next to the pool, plus a large boating lake (open from 12 to 5 pm on weekends and during school holidays, £1 per person), a ranger centre, a playground, and a miniature railway which operates on Sundays and Bank holidays from noon to 4 pm (weather permitting, £1 per person). Please note that dogs are not allowed in the park.
Find it at Ormerod Road Burnley, Lancashire BB11 3QW.
Congleton Paddling Pool (45.8 miles / 55 mins)
Another pool which has been open since the 1930s, Congleton paddling pool is council run, free to visit and has an attendant on duty at all times. The pool was renovated in 2008, when the toilet facilities were also updated, and there’s a cafe nearby which sells drinks, snacks and ice creams at reasonable prices, with profits going to a local charity. In common with the other sites mentioned on this page, the pool does get busy on hot days; in particular, please note that parking at the pool is resident only, so you are asked to use public car parks in town if you’re driving.
The paddling pool is at Park Road Congleton, Cheshire, CW12 1DP and is open from 10 am to 6 pm from late May to early September, weather permitting.
Market Drayton Swimming Centre, Shropshire (33.3 miles / 56 min)
The council-run Swimming Centre has a kidney-shaped outdoor pool, perfect for splashing about and cooling off. The pool is complete with tables and chairs, fun inflatables and a sunbathing area, and makes a great family day out in the summer – why not take a picnic and make a day of it?
Find it at Phoenix Bank, Newtown, Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9 1JU.
Stamford Paddling Pool, Stalybridge (47.9 miles /56 mins)
While the park’s website mentions a decorative water feature rather than a splash area, the fountains certainly look fun to run through on a sunny day, and there’s also a large sandy play space for younger children, with turning tyres, a slide, listening posts and a water pump, while for older children there are more daring attractions including a zip wire and a pyramid slide. The park has beautiful floral displays throughout the year, expansive grassy areas perfect for picnics and games, and ‘The Dingle’, a steep sided valley and woodland area which retains the character of the Victorian park’s heritage, while for children there is also a land train, a bouncy castle and trampolines (charges apply). Finally, there’s a cafe which is open seven days a week, and an aviary, which contains birds, poultry and small mammals.
The park opens at 8 am and closes at dusk. Pay and display car parking is available on the park’s car park at Darnton Road. Find it at Stamford Park, near Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester SK15 1NJ.
Craig Y Don Paddling Pool, Llandudno (46 miles / 58 mins)
A favourite seaside destination for Cestrians, Llandudno is also home to one of the largest outdoor paddling pools in Wales. The Craig Y Don Paddling Pool is located on the east side of the promenade on the sea front opposite Bodafon field, next to an enclosed play area.
There’s a pool cafe offering drinks, snacks and ice creams with picnic tables and benches, plus a public toilet. During the summer holidays, large inflatable balls known as Waterwalkerz will be making an appearance: huge transparent spheres which allow children to walk on water!
Find it at Llandudno, Conwy LL30 1LZ.
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