The new March mildness and teasing bursts of sunshine have been enough to get me and the kids much more adventurous about being outdoors.
Even the less summery side of the weather (gale force winds, dramatic cloudscapes, the odd hailstorm) has *mostly* added to the fun.
So we’ve been venturing further afield in search of outdoor play whenever we can.
Here are some of the places we’ve enjoyed Spring Skies, if not sunshine… some in London, some a short trip away.
What are your favourite places to get out in the fresh air at this time of year?
1. Greenwich Park
Fantastic children’s playground, loads of beautiful parkland to explore, wonderful view from the top of the hill…
… and lots of indoor play nearby if it starts to hail/rain/snow. Free options include the Maritime Museum’s toddler gallery, or the Astronomy Centre (less great for toddlers, unless you catch their great Planetarium show for under-7s, which is not free) if you’ve already made it up the hill when it starts to rain.
Getting to Greenwich on the DLR to Cutty Sark is a key attractions for my two.
2. Also on the DLR, Mudchute Farm and Country Park
I’ve written about this before, here. But another shout-out to how Mudchute somehow makes the stark financial towers of Canary Wharf look like a distant memory behind the Real Spring, all blossom and green fields.
Shelter from March showers in the reasonably priced cafe, which has a huge box of toddler toys and lots of highchairs.
3. Hampstead Heath
I haven’t been up Parliament Hill yet this Spring, but it’s next on my list of places with a big outdoorsy feel, lovely view, huge playground at the foot of Parliament Hill (more details in Aline’s post on parks), and a train ride to get there (with my two mini train enthusiasts the Overground to Gospel Oak will be a key part of the appeal).
We’ll take a kite to fly from Parliament Hill and a picnic.
4. South Weald Country Park and the Stick Man trail
Aline my co-blogger has written about this and the Gruffalo Trail, here, (a whole year ago when we were getting excited about last spring) so I won’t repeat all the practical details.
BUT I mention it again because we went today, and it’s a great place to go if you’re feeling cooped up by London – it’s got a lovely, open countryside feel with woods, rolling hills and a lake. Tame deer and ducks can be fed with food bought from the visitor centre at the car park.
The Stick Man trail itself is a series of brilliant play areas spread among the trees and fields, with wooden stick character sculptures, log-based adventure play equipment and a general feel of encouraging kids to play in their own way in the natural environment.
Some of the play equipment is aimed slightly older kids but my 3 and 1 year old had plenty of fun with what they could do and with looking out for stick characters. Also, the play area nearest the car park has baby swings and more toddler sized stuff.
For more inspiration check out Aline’s parks roundup here – and please share your favourite fresh air and play places in the comments!