This is one of my favourite places to come – the Cotswold Country Park, near Cirencester. From a former quarry to a beautiful lake, it is a perfect example of how the land can be reclaimed and turned into something beautiful and useful. Even on a bustling Bank Holiday weekend, there are still plenty of quiet corners to sit and listen to the birds and the sound of the water and just relax.
My son started calling it The Far Away Park years ago, when we first discovered it. To him, it was nothing more than the best ever park, with swimming and magical secret paths in the woods, but we couldn’t walk to it like we ordinarily do with parks. The Far Away Park. The name has stuck, despite the fact that he’s now more than old enough to find it on a map all by himself.
Having said this, I did like it better before it was taken over by new management. It used to be just simply the lake and paths, a couple of small playgrounds near the beaches, pedalos and a simple cafe. Now there are giant floating balls to run around in, at £5 for 5 minutes, the world’s most pathetic pitch and putt course, at £10 for a family of 4, and the annual pass has almost tripled in cost. Rather than being the place where we can get away from it all, it feels ever so slightly more like the sort of place from which we want to escape.
Yet there are still quiet corners for the family, and enough sand and water to keep the kids happily occupied for hours, and by declaring it a ‘pester-free zone’, we (mostly) avoid nagging about those stupid giant balls.