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Where to Keep Cool in a Summer Heatwave!


First published July 2021

With temperatures rising you may be wondering where you can go in and around Harpenden to cool off?  Here’s some ideas. Please take appropriate care and judgement around natural waterways as the situation can vary from day to day and change without warning.

Parts of the River Lea at Batford Springs are ideal for paddling in. There are lots of shallow areas, stepping stones and waterfalls - take care as some are stronger then others. This is a popular spot in the warm weather.  There’s plenty of grassy areas for a picnic and of course there’s the recently refurbished “pirate park”.

Heading further down the River Lea towards Wheathampstead, if you follow the Lee Valley Line cycle path (there’s an entrance point at the Amble Inn) you will come across Willow Trees Cafe at Croft Farm. In the past it has been possible to access the river here and it is usually shallow enough for the kids to paddle. We haven’t visited in a while to confirm this but you can definitely enjoy a lovely coffee and cake by the river in the shade of the trees!

Verulamium Park has a Toddler Splash Park. Due to its popularity on hot days and current coronavirus restrictions you now need to book your free 1 hour slot in advance.  The park also has a newly-refurbished play area, trampolines and adventure golf to enjoy while you are waiting, or after. As well as the Inn on the Park for refreshments.

There’s also a new Splash Park at Stanborough Lakes which opened last year. It’s free and there are some walk-in slots available each day, but generally speaking and especially on a warm day when it will be busy it’s best to book your slot to avoid disappointment. Not that you will have to pay for parking.

There are paddling pools at Cassiobury Park in Watford and you can also paddle in the River Gade by the rustic bridge.  Read our article about visiting Cassiobury Park written a few years ago.  Our top tip on a busy day is to get there early for the parking!

Gadebridge Park in Hemel Hempstead also has a splash park.  We haven’t visited this one to try it out, but like everywhere else now you have to book in advance. This time for a 2-hour slot.

Hitchin has an outdoor pool with sun loungers around the outside and is open for bookings for family swims. These are limited to 45 minute sessions at the moment.

If you want the beach experience too there’s Ruislip Lido. This is a reservoir in north London with a sandy beach and children’s play area. It also has a little railway.  As you can imagine it is incredibly popular on a sunny day so an early start might be in order here!

If your children are too old for the splash parks or you want to keep out of the sun try Oasis Beach Pool in Bedford. It’s an indoor pool with slides and waves and it does have a lazy river which is outdoors. Read about our visit a couple years ago.

And of course there’s our very own lovely refurbished pool in the new Harpenden Leisure Centre, though there’s no outdoor section to the pool any more, but at least you can cool off without the risk of sunburn!

For something more adventurous with older children and teens take a look at some of the aqua parks nearby like Box End Aqua Park (read about our visit) or H2O Rampage (read about our visit) near Ware, or Lee Valley White Water Centre for some thrills!

If messing about on the river is more your thing then your can hire boats at the Lee Valley Boat Centre or you could try the Canoe Trail at Bedford, which we visited and reviewed last year.

Have fun, and stay cool!

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