Dinosaur Island at Southwater Country Park opened earlier this summer, and it's a brand new dinosaur adventure themed playground. We visited this week with some friends and had such a great time I thought I'd share what we thought of it as I'd definitely recommend it!
I have fond memories of Southwater Country Park as I grew up in Horsham. I used to go canoeing with the Venture Scouts and I also remember raft building (and sinking) on the lake with the Guides. The playground is at the far side of the park, so it's a short walk from the Visitor Centre. The free parking is clearly marked from the road, and dinosaur footprints mark the way to the playground. We arrived quite early knowing that it would be popular in the summer holidays, and it was pretty busy by the time we left around lunchtime.
We set up our picnic blanket by the sandpit, knowing that it would be popular. Luckily we'd been told to bring buckets and spades, and the children spent a good while busily excavating the dinosaur bones. It's such a simple idea and yet brilliant, there's so much enjoyment to be had from digging around with a 'purpose'. There is also a small framework in the sandpit along with pulleys and buckets for moving sand about.
The playground covers quite a large area, and there is lots of different dinosaur themed play equipment, as well as the playground classics like swings and slides. The centrepiece is a large volcano which children can climb. I'd had an idea that the volcano was supposed to do something eruption related, but it stayed dormant during our visit so I'm not quite sure if there is any more to it or not.
There are a couple of rope walkway areas for the children to explore around the playground, one has been there for a few years now and there is also a newer one which seems to be aimed at slightly older children, it certainly looked quite difficult to me although Harry had no problems getting around it!
There is a lot to do, and we were quite happily entertained in the playground for a couple of hours, along with eating our picnic. There was an ice cream shed next to the playground but unfortunately it was shut and it was too far to walk back to the Visitor Centre for an ice-cream - they were definitely missing a trick there as I would have bought some! The main toilets and changing facilities are also back in the Visitor Centre, which is worth knowing. There are a few portaloos set up next to the playground but they are only temporary for the summer holidays and to be honest they were pretty grim.
Southwater Country Park isn't just about Dinosaur Island though, and it's definitely worth making the trip even if you have to travel a short distance. The paths are smooth and level, so ideal for pushchairs, and there is a large lake in the centre with a sandy beach where you can swim and paddle. There are ducks and swans to see, and some beautiful wildlife areas.
If you are interested in visiting you can find out more information and location here - Southwater Country Park.