Located within Cotswold Water Park and close to Cirencester, Cotswold Country Park and Beach is a facility with two lakes, a beach, and a whole host of activities – a place to spend a whole day as a family or group or friends.
I visited as part of my GetOutside Activity Challenge back in September and was genuinely impressed with the place, staff, and the activities on offer, and so felt it deserved more than just a quick mention in that post. They’re not currently open (they’re closed for winter, back open on 1 April for the new season), but I thought I’d start my new Days Out category with a few words to encourage you to put this one in your diary for 2019.
Describing themselves as “the ultimate for watersports in the Cotswolds”, there is the inflatable assault course Aquaventure, paddleboards, kayaks and Canadian canoes, swan pedalos, rowing boats, mini electric boats for the kids, mini golf, and other things.
You pay per car, which includes up to five people. It’s £16 during peak season (6July to 1 September 2019), and £12 during off peak season (1 April to 5 July, and 2 September to 29 September). It’s a bit more if you bring an eight-seater car, and a bit less if you arrive by motorcycle. I did wonder before my visit, but would say this is totally worth it, you could very easily go to Cotswold Country Park and Beach without spending any more than that, an excellent place for a family day out in the summer holidays. If you are local and visit regularly you can get an annual membership for £85. The team were kind enough to donate entry to help me with my GetOutside Activity Challenge, but I researched, booked and paid for the activities myself.
Because you pay per car and there is no time limit, it is the sort of place you’d head for an entire day rather than just going for an hour for one activity. I mean, if you’re paying to park all day, and it’s a nice day, you’ll want to make the most of the place won’t you?
Booking is ahead of time via their website, or you pay on the gate, but in the summer it does get busy and they do close when they are at capacity, so I would definitely suggest booking ahead if you’re going during high season. It looks like they only allow 400 cars in per day.
There are two lakes within the facility, which is actually part of a much larger series of lakes, some of which are also open to the public (but I am yet to visit and explore). The South Lake is where you’ll find the beach and family friendly activities, and the North Lake is the watersports lake.
You’ll find the sandy beach along one edge of the South Lake, perfect for building sandcastles and relaxing, with a roped off area for paddling and swimming if you’re feeling brave. It’s a bit like the beaches you find at Center Parcs – small, man-made, but very beachy just the same. There are also swan pedalos, mini electric boats for the kids, and rowing boats to hire (all on the day, you can’t hire these ahead of time); we hired a pedalo and was pleasantly surprised how large the area was we could go – it was a lot of fun to be out on the water in such a simple craft.
The South Lake is where you’ll find the more adventurous water sports, and as a general rule, activities here have to be booked online before you arrive. It’s the home to the inflatable obstacle course that is Wibit Aquaventure, along with the kayaking and paddle boarding. We did the latter two, spending half an hour on the large and completely empty lake on each. The brief instruction before we got on the water was basic but useful, and we were then left to our own devices for our time slot. It was all very relaxed – I don’t know how busy it gets during the August Bank Holiday weekend, but on this Saturday at the end of September it was calm and easy and just us.
Pricing of the activities was reasonable enough, although it would soon mount up if you and your whole family wanted to do something. We paid £6 for half an hour kayak hire, £10 for half an hour paddleboard hire (no tuition), £3 for mini golf (plus a returnable deposit for the clubs), and £4 for a swan pedalo. If you want to go and play on the massive inflatables that is £15 for an hour – it honestly looks like an incredible amount of fun and I have every intention of going back sometime in 2019 to have a play in the lake because, well, I need to – best with friends I think.
But there are a good number of free activities on offer too, and, most importantly, a lot of space to run around and play your own games. The beach probably gets rammed in the summer, but on our visit it felt large and spacious, with a reasonably large area for paddling and swimming. There are also play parks close by with the usual swings, slides and climbing frames.
There are nature walks around both lakes; we did the walk around the North Lake and found a number of quiet and secluded picnic areas with lovely views of the lake. These are dotted all over the site – you can pay to hire these for the day, you can park right next to it, they have brick-built barbecues, would be ideal for a family or church gathering or the like. There are a number of trails that come in and out of the park from the surrounding area, meaning you can access the site on foot.
You’ll find changing rooms close to both lakes and toilets in a number of locations around the site.
If you don’t want to take your own picnic and make use of one of the many picnic tables dotted around the site, there is food to buy in a couple of locations. There’s an outside catering booth by the beach, and an indoor cafe in the main building underneath the main shop and reception. I had a burger and fries from the outdoor place, which was pretty reasonable, although there was nothing vegan on the menu other than the fries themselves when we were there. I would highly recommend the ice cream, which I had to buy after losing at mini golf.
I certainly enjoyed my day out here, and would recommend it to others. I will certainly be back another day, with my family when they come to visit in the summer, or (and) to play on and in the water some more. But I’d love to know what you think.
Have you been to Cotswold Country Park and Beach? What do you think of it as a place for some outdoors time? Have you visited any of the other lakes in the area? And have you been on the massive inflatable course? I’d love to know!
Please note that Cotswold Country Park and Beach is currently closed for the winter. It reopens on 1 April 2019 for the season. See you there!
Find out more about the facilities, and book your parking ahead of time, on their website.
In the interests of clarity, I visited Cotswold Country Park and Beach with free entry/car parking as part of my GetOutside Activity Challenge in September 2018. I paid for all activities myself. They did not require me to write about my visit in return for free entry, it was a kind gift to help me with my challenge, but I thought you’d like to know about the facilties.