If you want an outdoorsy day out that’s nearby and on the Central Line, Fairlop Water Country Park is a good option.
Set around a sailing lake, the park includes a large outdoor boulder park with artificial rock climbing boulders for bouldering enthusiasts (‘bouldering’ is climbing on low-level rocks, without ropes) – a great place for parents who climb and can tag-team looking after the kids. Some of the boulders are less steep and ideal for children or beginners to have a go scrambling up (though children will need close supervision as there are some big drops).
There is plenty of shady grass around the boulders for picnics, and gravel areas for the digger enthusiasts in the family…
At the West end of the park there’s a pavilion with a bar and toilets. On the day we visited there was also an ice-cream van and you could pay for rides around the park on a mini ‘train’, much to Finn’s delight.
The park encourages physical activity in kids of all ages and feels very spacious, peaceful and open to the sky – all in all a good escape from London.
Fairlop Waters Park surrounds Fairlop Water and includes an outdoor Boulder Park at the north-east corner.Fairlop Waters is also the location of Owls Play Centre, a soft play centre which Aline has reviewed in a blog post here. For non-toddlers, it has a watersports centre, high ropes climbing centre and golf course.
Fairlop Waters, Forest Road Barkingside, Essex, IG6 3HN.
Tube: Near Fairlop, on the central line. See this map.
Car: there are two car parks, one near the boulder park and the other near the lakeside pavilion.
Open long hours, all year – opening times here.
Facilities and access
Wide buggy-friendly, accessible paths around the lake. Toilets in the pavilion building (10 minutes’ walk from the boulder area).