27 Jun 2011

Queen's Park, Bolton

Queen's Park has always had a bit of a dodgy reputation, especially at night-time, so I haven't been in ages to the park.

However, one sunny day we decided to take the kids to the park and I have to say I absolutely loved it.


Car parking                                 *****
Toilet facilities                              *****
Entertainment value for kids         *****
Entertainment value for adults      *****
Possible extras (£s)                     *****
Overall rating                               *****

Car Parking (5 out of 5)
Perhaps it's because I live close to the park that I know where to park but there are endless places to park and they're free.  We always park on Chorley Old Road right outside the main entrance.  If you go at the weekends there should be loads of space.  I believe there is an actual carpark into the park but I don't know if they charge.  The park is in a residential and business area so during the weekends all the business traffic isn't there and the residential areas tend to have driveways to park on so no problems here.

Toilet facilities (1 out of 5)
I gave 1 out of 5 because they actually had loos but the fact that they were padlocked obviously meant we couldn't use them, so half out of 5 would've been better.  The park is in the middle of being done up so I assume their toilet facilities will improve.

Entertainment value for kids (4 out of 5)
There are hills after glorious hills on this park and they're great for rolling down.  They're also great for sledging in the winter, though maybe some are too steep, there's a river at the bottom of some hills! There's lots of places to play hide and seek, loads of places to picnic, which is what we did, a pond that's full of ducks and birds, and a great play area for kids, but young kids.  It's got sand pits, sand diggers, slides, climbing frames (a very big one too, which looks pretty scary), play equipment in the sand pits, swings, balancing beams and a mini assault course and a death rope slide, though that wasn't working when we went. Your kids may get bored though if they're over 8 years.  

They are still renovating the park and the old play area, but I'm not sure what they're putting on there, perhaps I'll have to pay another visit.

Entertainment value for adults (3 out of 5)
Who doesn't like rolling down hills!  We love it and the park is pretty clean so hopefully not much dog poo on the grass (urgh).  There's loads of space so you can have a picnic without hearing the next person's conversation or smelling their sandwiches!  The pond is nice and I always like feeding the ducks.  There are tennis courts and bowling greens too though not sure if you have to pay or how much, or actually how to get a court, sorry.

Possible extras (5 out of 5)
When we went there was nothing else you could spend your money on.  It was great!  I'm sure in the height of summer there will be an ice-cream van but there wasn't on this day and it was a scorcher.  So nothing that could make the kids jump up and down crying 'I want one'.  Just as I like it.

Overall rating (4 out of 5)
OK, perhaps the weather made this a much better experience than normal.  The only way of knowing would be to go on a miserable day, though this may make it even better as we'll have the park to ourselves.

I believe the park got a grant of approximately £7,000,000 just before the new government got in so they can keep the money and they're really making it all new and shiny.  As long as they do the essential amenities, i.e. the toilets, then I'll be happy.

Is it FREE - yes absolutely.

Is it EASY -  another yes.

3 Jun 2011

Moss Bank Park, Bolton

I'm lucky enough to live near Moss Bank Park so we go quite regularly, though I do tend to avoid it at the weekends and during school holidays.

It's such a good park and gets quite busy but the other day I braved it during half-term.  Thankfully I bumped into a friend whilst I was there and good company always improves a day out.  But I really do like this park.

It's very easy to get to either on public transport (501 from the town centre, then a very short walk) or by car.  There are two carparks which can get busy during summer holidays, especially if it's a sunny day, but there's still plenty of parking in the streets surrounding the area so nothing to worry about.


Car parking                                 *****
Toilet facilities                              *****
Entertainment value for kids         *****
Entertainment value for adults      *****
Possible extras (£s)                     *****
Overall rating                              *****

Car Parking (4 out of 5)
I think the car parking facilities are great but it would've got 5 if there was more spaces.  Though admittedly it only really gets busy on a hot holiday.  There's a car park as soon as you get to the front of Moss Bank Park and if that's full just follow the road.  It veers left and you'll soon see a second car park which allows you to enter the park from the back.  All parking is free.  If it's really busy then this is a residential area and while the residents might hate me for this, you can always park outside their houses.

Toilet facilities (2 out of 5)
The toilet facilities are basic.  I don't know if there is a disabled toilet and I've never seen a baby changing area, but that's simply because I haven't looked (sorry, never normally need them as I live close).  The toilets aren't very big so if you have a pram you can't take it into the cubicle but you can take it into the toilets.  I've changed nappies on the grass and there are lots of bins around so never had a problem with changing the baby.  There's no feeding facilities but there are lots of benches and little nook and crannies if you want some privacy.

Entertainment value for kids (4 out of 5)
There are huge fields all over that you can take a ball and have a kick about or do what ever you like.  Loads of spaces for picnics, but I did visit one morning for a run after a particularly hot day and it was full of litter so please take your rubbish home with you.  People had even left old picnic blankets.
There are two play areas.  One for younger children (not really for toddlers except for 4 toddler swings) and another for older children, perhaps 7+ depending on size.  There's a huge sandpit so take your bucket and spade. 

There is the Animal World with lots of rabbits, llamas, goats, birds, deer and I also think the 2 red squirrels are still there.  Animal World has recently lost it's zoo status so some animals had to go.  This was due to the council budget cuts.  It was due to be axed altogether but members of the public put up a huge fight and managed to save it.  Though now you have to pay 50p per person to go in, under 2s are free.  Not too bad a price if you don't normally get to visit places like this.  When I was there this week you had to buy a wristbank from the fun fair to get into animal world.  You couldn't buy them from animal world.

There is a small fun fair there but you have to pay.  The kids do love these rides but I personally think they should be banned from parks.  It would save an endless amount of tears and tantrums!  There is also a minature railway that both children and adults can go on (not as good as Haigh Hall though).

Entertainment for adults (3 out of 5)
The fields are great for a picnic then playing games with the kids, and they are spread out all over the place so you could even avoid the play area if you came in from the back entrance.  There's a lovely flower garden that you can have a nice peaceful stroll through and even some benches if you fancy eating there (not too many benches though).  Animal world is also nice for adults. 

There are tennis courts there which I've used in the past (always taken my own equipment, not sure if you can hire it).  There are bowling greens too and I've seen loads of people using some of the fields to practise their golf swings (they definitely took their own equipment).

There used to be a rockery which I loved as a kid but this has been closed.  I'm not too sure what they are doing with it as some of their previous plans were axed due to the cuts.

There have been free concerts in the park too, and I think Mel C (sporty spice) once played there!!!  I have no idea if there will be more but if you're interested you could always check with Bolton Council.

Possible extras (2 out of 5)
This is where the park falls down.  There is the fun fair with each ride costing £1 per person, a small train for kids and adults costing 50p per person, Animal World costing 50p per person (under 2s free) and an ice-cream stall selling drinks, ice creams and even hotdogs and burgers.  This is particularly expensive - £1.50 for a single cone and £2 with a flake!  Lollies were £1.  There's also a crazy golf section but the only crazy thing about it is the price.  Even if I was a millionaire I wouldn't pay to go on there.

We always have tears when it comes to whether or not the kids can go on the fun fair but we make a deal with them, either an ice-cream/lolly or 1 ride, it's up to them.  If you go during the week not all of the rides are available and the ice-cream stall isn't always open.  There isn't really a shop within quick walking distance that you could get the things from cheaper too so unless you're going to take some money, make sure you take provisions with you.

Sometimes they also have a travelling fairground which obviously costs a lot extra.

Overall rating (4 out of 5)
I like Moss Bank Park.  There's lots to do and not all of them cost money.  It has enough space for you to make your own fun and the park is big enough for the kids to play on for a good hour.  I've never spent the whole day there but even just a quick visit is generally 2 hours long and that doesn't always involve a picnic so if you've got a spare morning or afternoon then it's great.

As for it being FREE - Yes definitely, but you may have tears if they see the fun fair, just a small price to pay for saving money.

And as for it being EASY - Yes definitely.