I should start this post with a little story. Back when I was a kid – around eleven I think – we visited family friends who lived in Devon. Our stay included a day out at this amazing place with an incredible outdoor play area, zip wire, kayaking on the river and a lake complete with tyres to swing from and all sorts of fun water games to play. My dad decided to go on these tyres across the swimming lake and, somehow, lost his watch. I’m not sure of the minor details but it’s one of those stories that has been in our family folklore for as long as I can remember. That place was River Dart Country Park, and this post is the latest in my Days Out In Devon series.
River Dart Country Park is a fantastic destination for one of the best days out in Devon you’ll find, simply because there’s so much to do there. More than just a day trip, you can also camp there, get married there, kayak there, go on high wires around the trees there, picnic there and so much more. It was the destination for Frog’s pre-school Forest School sessions a few years ago and is one of those places we always recommend to people visiting Devon for the first time.
The last time we visited the park was a couple of years ago, when Baby Girl was about eight months old. Watch this vlog to see a flashback with some footage of our day two years ago and a very tiny Baby Girl…
Whether you’ve got toddlers or teenagers, this is a great day out, mainly because of the huge array of things to do. Older kids love the more adventurous area in the swimming lake while toddlers and younger kids can pootle around on the beach area and paddle in the shallows. Add to this the extras of zorbing, high wires in the trees and kayaking down the river (none of which we did) and it’s the recipe for a really fun action-packed day with teens.
We took things at a more leisurely pace, choosing instead to do the mini assault course trail near the car-park, before wandering through the pretty gardens and having a relaxed picnic by the river.
Obviously Frog wanted to explore the river as close as possible after the picnic. Luckily we managed to distract Baby Girl with a biscuit – knowing her, she’d have been trying to jump in, the terrifyingly fearless child that she is…
After lunch we made our way to the jewel in the River Dart Country Park crown (at least as far as the kids are concerned); the lake. This is home to some of the most fun you can have when you’re aged six and two.
There’s a giant pirate ship marooned in the lake, tyres to swing from for older kids, sand to play in and water to splash in. While all the other parents were very organised and prepared, dressing their kids in wetsuits, I was the only mum who turned up with a cozzie and tankini for my pair. Oops. The water was too inviting to put them off getting involved though, as you can see from these photos.
One of the things I love most about River Dart Country Park is the fact there are so many places to just sit and relax. It’s so big that, even on busy days, it never feels overwhelming. We took a picnic blanket and sat in the sunshine while the girls played in the lake, but there were lots of families setting up camp near the house or in secluded spots around the grounds.
The outdoor play area was last on our list of places to enjoy on the day, and this doesn’t disappoint. With a special play area just for babies and toddlers (including a VERY cute baby zip wire), two huge slides, a large zip wire, multiple climbing frames and various different types of swings and assault courses, this is a play area to beat all play areas.
And there the day ended, after an epic toddler tantrum regarding a swing, a shoe and a zip wire (don’t ask). It’s fair to say Baby Girl squeezed every last drop of fun and then some out of the park, leaving her exhausted, overwrought and ready for a huge sleep in the car on the way home.
Frog was pretty wiped out too, and nearly fell asleep on this chair outside Holne House, the main mansion house in the grounds.
So if you’re looking for a destination to exhaust the kids, have some fun and get rid of a load of energy, THIS is the place.
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If you missed the others in the series, you can read more here:
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