I like autumn. And in particular, I like autumn leaves. Except when ‘leaves on the track’ delay a train I’m catching…ggrrrrrr. But, for the most part, I like autumn. Even now, I make a point of walking through fallen leaves so I can hear them crunch under my feet. It reminds me of my childhood when we would play in leaves knee-deep at the local park.
I also like cake. Quite a lot. In fact, one of Little Miss’s first words was ‘cake’, probably because she heard me say it so often!
So, instead of just writing about lovely places for an autumn walk, I thought I would combine both and bring you my favourite parks for autumn colour, PLUS when you’ve had enough; a nice piece of cake.
Ferry Meadows, Peterborough
Ferry Meadows is a firm favourite with lots of my friends with kids. There’s heaps of parking (which is £4 per car in the weekend until end of October, then free from November to end of February), the brilliant otter playground, and lots of hard-surfaced paths for scooters. For the prettiest autumn colours, go on the Bluebell walk, which goes around the back of Ferry Meadows. It will take a good hour, so take the buggy if your little ones can’t manage that much. And afterwards, head to the café by the visitors’ centre for a lovely selection of cake – I go for carrot cake (it’s got carrots in it; surely that’s one of my 5-a-day?). There is another café by the watersports centre (Lakeside Kitchen and Bar), but I haven’t been since it re-opened.
Central Park, Peterborough
We use to live right by Central Park in Peterborough, so I have spent quite a lot of time here, mostly prior to Little Miss coming along. I took Little Miss to the park over the summer and discovered what a fantastic playground it has. There were lots of climbing frames (including a train-shaped one, which went down a storm with Little Miss), slides, swings, a see-saw boat and lots of other things I have no idea how to describe. I liked it a lot. As did Little Miss. So our recent autumn visit did include a bit of jumping and throwing leaves, but mainly swinging, sliding and climbing. And we topped it off with a slice of apple cake in the Buttercross Café (apples, another one of my 5-a-day?).
Burghley Park, Stamford
We spend a lot of time at Burghley during the summer splashing about in the Gardens of Surprise. So Little Miss was quite put out this time when I told her we wouldn’t be going in the water fountains. She cheered up though when we arrived and she discovered two things: 1) it was raining, so she could put up her Peppa Pig umbrella, and 2) because of aforementioned rain, there were lots of muddy puddles to jump in. Once Little Miss had fallen over twice in the puddles, I decided we’d had enough (and I’d run out of spare clothes), so we headed up to the Orangery Restaurant for some afternoon tea. I had the chocolate brownie, and it was delicious, if not a tad on the pricey side. The Gardens of Surprise, Sculpture Park and Garden Café are closed from 3 November until the middle of March 2015.
Rutland Water, Rutland
Rutland Water is a 40 minute a trek from where we live in Market Deeping, so we don’t go a lot. When we went in spring, we hired bikes and that’s what we were planning to do this time, but when we arrived there was quite a cold wind, so we didn’t. Maybe next time. Anyway, we settled for a walk to the playground, with some squirrel spotting on our way, and then headed to the Harbour Café for a cheese scone. Sometimes I just don’t feel like cake (did I actually just say that!?). There are lots of places to park at Rutland Water – for the cycle hire shop and Harbour Café park at the Whitwell car park (£3 for 3 hours, £5 all day).
Fineshade Wood, between Corby and Stamford
Again, Fineshade Wood is a bit of a trek from Market Deeping, but I think it’s worth the trip. The wood covers a huge area, so even though the car park (£3 all day) can look really full, when walking you hardly see anyone at all. Little Miss loved exploring off in the woods and collecting leaves, pine cones and sticks. Lots of the trails are buggy-friendly, although can be muddy. There’s a great playground just by the visitor’s centre, and one in the woods for older children. The Lodge Café is obviously very popular as by the time we got there, they’d sold out of most of the cakes and biscuits, so I had a piece of flapjack and some of Little Miss’s yoghurt covered raisins!