Last week, I had a rare Friday off and decided to venture somewhere new and visit Southwater Country Park in Horsham, West Sussex. Living in East Sussex, I don’t usually visit West Sussex as a) I prefer East Sussex (oooo! Controversial!) and b) I don’t know much about what’s around so I often just stick to where we all know and enjoy.
But after a quick Google and some recommendations I decided to go with Southwater Country Park. According to the website, it wasn’t that far from me (approx. 30 minutes) and was free to enter – so I was sold!
The best of everything
When I arrived, I immediately had to park in the overflow car park – which is always a good sign in my eyes – although it wasn’t surprising at all as the weather was gorgeous and I only arrived around lunchtime.
The location is apparently a former brickworks (I read signs!) and is also the home to various water-sports such as kayaking and canoeing thanks to it’s rather large lake. There’s also the opportunity to take part in orienteering and other outdoor activities.
We decided to forgo the water sports and decided to go for a walk around the lake.
During the walk you had several opportunities to stick to the main path or go ‘off-piste’ and head into the wooded areas. There was also a marked path that headed to an adventure playground – but we decided to lave that bit ’til last!
In no time we were half way round and found ourselves on a little man-made beach! It wasn’t sandy, but it was close enough; with the ground made from tiny, foot-friendly stones. It was still really hot and the water was so inviting so I thought it would be a good time to stop for the picnic I had packed and then go for a paddle in the lake (although I didn’t tell the toddler this would be happening otherwise he would’t have eaten!).
I’m going to state the obvious, but it was an absolute scorcher today. I’m so glad I packed his swimsuit* as there was no way we weren’t going in the water. He was half way in before I managed to get his T-shirt off! After his little swim, we then finished off our day with a tub of ice cream. And why not? The day was spot on. *I can’t believe he still fits this (maybe not in the legs, mind you).
A Paddle with Swans
Getting him changed was the biggest challenge, as T was so desperate to get in the water, but it was worth it as he was straight in and decided to have a sit in the water and dig his feet (and legs) into the stones. What topped my view off nicely was the family of swans that swam by every now and again.
In the blink of an eye we had been there for two hours (paddling for an hour!) so I decided to pack everything up, get the toddler changed back into his clothes (again, challenging), and continue our walk – but this time via the playground!
The land of Dinosaurs
Now, I’ve been to my fair share of playgrounds in the past two years, but I have to say that this was by far one of the best ones I’ve seen. As well as your typical climbing frames – although if I’m honest, even these were fantastic and something that bit different – you also had a variety of slides varying in size, an array of swings (some even had back support) and some sort of tree-top style walk way (not for the faint-hearted) amongst other things. There was also a zip wire and various interactive pieces. It was amazing.
I’m so glad I left this until the end as there is no way T would have left this quietly. Plus, being the end of the day meant that he was up for playing but was happy to go when I said it was time to go. Coming at the end also meant it was quiet!
Walking back to the car, we went via the cafe that was on-site (remind me to go back for lunch!) and finished the day off with a pot of ice cream.
I cannot recommend Southwater Country Park enough if you’re in the area (or not, in my case). It really has the best of everything and caters to all. We could have easily stayed there all day – especially as there are picnic benches and areas for BBQ’s as well as shady areas if you locate yourself at the beach area.
We were there from lunchtime until 4pm but I still felt like I wanted to explore more! The woodland areas apparently boast lots of wildlife and I’m still really tempted to hire a boat, although maybe not on my own with a toddler who loves the water (and ducks!).
Have you been to Southwater Country Park? What did you like most about it?