I’ve had my eye on the AquaVenture course at Cotswold Country Park and Beach for a little while, ever since we sat on our kayaks and watched a group of people play about on it in my 2018 GetOutside Activity Challenge. I remember sitting on the perfectly calm lake paddling around watching groups of people jump around what looked like a massive bouncy castle on the water, giggling and screaming the whole time – it just looked like enormous fun. You won’t be surprised that when I was planning my 2019 challenge weekend, I couldn’t help but add it into the mix.
AquaVenture is, in short, a giant inflatable obstacle course floating on a lake. It looks a bit like a cross between an oversized bouncy castle and the course found on Total Wipeout. This particular course can be found at Cotswold Country Park and Beach, close to Cirencester, which is a family activity facility with a couple of lakes and a manmade beach where you can kayak, paddleboard, row, pedalo, walk, have barbecues, and generally enjoy the Great British summer (read about the facility in this post).
It honestly just looked like all the fun, and so Sarah and I booked a session on the Saturday morning of my 2019 GetOutside Activity Challenge weekend (which you can read about here). As it was part of my challenge, Cotswold Country Park and Beach kindly gifted us entry to the park, but we paid for our AquaVenture session ourselves, which I think meant we’d have got free entry to the Park anyway, but never mind.
This is the kind of activity you have to book ahead, and you can do so online. Each session lasts an hour, and they run on the hour throughout the day. We paid £15 each for the activity plus £5 for wetsuit hire, which was the most we spent on any activity over the weekend but did feel like good value for the hour-long session considering the number of instructors and the nature of the activity. After a short safety briefing and a bit of instruction on what the different obstacles are from the dryness of the lakeshore (well it would have been dry if it wasn’t chucking it down with rain…), before we got in the lake and swam over to the steps to get up onto the course.
AquaVenture was the most hilarious activity of the weekend by far – well if you overlook the childish nature of rolling down a hill, of course. And I think that really is the best way to describe it – “hilarious”. I’ve coined the phrase “grace of an elephant” for reasons that anyone who knows me can easily see, but I have good balance and consider myself reasonably fit, especially in the water. But I have to admit it was nowhere near as easy as I thought it was going to be. I imagined I would trot across the bouncy inflatables like a bunny rabbit might hop across the snow. Instead, I spent much of my time lying flat on my stomach akin to a beached whale, or doggy paddling my way to get back on it, giggling so hard I couldn’t breathe.
The course is genuinely massive, apparently there are 40 obstacles to tackle, although I don’t think we did them all (we didn’t do the pillow thing) we had a good go. It took me three attempts to get up the big tower as I really wanted to go down the slide, which was the highlight of the session. I was definitely shown up by everyone else on the course, although I have to say that the kids we chatted to were also finding a lot of it much tougher than they thought – but kids bounce a bit easier, don’t they?!
Even with the difficulty rating of the obstacles being much higher than I’d imagined it might be, and ending the session black and blue from bruises galore, it was still an incredible amount of fun. I think we managed about 30 minutes before we decided to jump in and swim back to shore, wanting to save what energy we had left for the other 70 activities that formed part of my GetOutside Activity Challenge. We’re already making plans to return in the summer to give it another go, on hopefully a warmer and drier day and with a bigger group of friends this time, so it can’t have been that bad!
The cost comes in at £15 per person, plus £5 for wetsuit hire of you want one (not required but sensible, those inflatables are hard and not as smooth as you might think), and if two of you are booked on you get free entry for your car load into the Country Park and Beach, which is normally £12 to £15 depending on the season.
AquaVenture would make a super fun and very slightly ridiculous activity for active friends wanting something different to do on a day out. It comes recommended from me.
Find out more about AquaVenture at Cotswold Country Park and Beach over on their website.