Conkers is an outdoor and indoor adventure centre near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the midlands. If you have mini fans of bush-craft and outdoor adventure, then this is a great family day out.
We visited on a very rainy Saturday, but with some enthusiastic bush-crafters on our team, the rain wasn’t enough to wash the fun away. Although Conkers is mostly outdoors, rain didn’t stop play, and we still had plenty to do
Our first activity was orienteering. Our group was given a map so we could find our essential den making kit, and meet up with the other groups at the rendezvous point. We set off in the direction of our location, and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings as we went. We found the kit, with a little bit of help from the leaders, and set off for the rendezvous point.
The rendezvous point turned out to be the bush craft area. We were instructed to find a den-making spot and get cracking. Our instruction was to make a shelter all our group could fit under. As we were a biggish group of six, I settled on one we could fit four small people under. The girls were very impressed with my den-making skills. I wasn’t a girl guide for nothing, you know!
Our next task was to build a fire. Our bush craft expert John showed us how to build and light a fire. It looked really easy. Then he instructed us to go and find some dry wood, which was a bit of a challenge given the weather.
We were given a flint tool for lighting it, and some cotton wool to start us off. It was quite a challenge but all the girls were intrigued and determined to get a good fire. They collected wood with enthusiasm, wet and dry.
With a bit more help from John, we managed to get a half-decent fire going. The marshmallows and chocolate digestives were doled out and we cracked on with making, and eating, s’mores. I have never seen a full packet of biscuits disappear quite so quickly.
By the end of these tasks we were absolutely filthy and reeked of bonfire smoke. I was glad of the baby wipes I’d thought to pack.
The bush craft sessions are available to the public on selected days through the summer, and are included in the main entrance price. There are age restrictions so please check the website or call Conkers before you book.
Next, we were given the privilege of the barefoot trail. This is a trail where you do indeed walk barefoot. There are a range of surfaces to walk on, including through water, over gravel, clay, and mud. The children absolutely loved this, though I don’t think it’s good for small children or less confident walkers. There are a couple of bits where you have to be very careful, though to be fair, the morning’s rain didn’t help. We made it round safe and sound though, having added layers of dirt to our feet and ankles, to complement those on our hands and faces.
We cleaned ourselves up and headed off for lunch.
After lunch we were free to explore Conkers. First we found the craft corner, which my girls loved. They made owls from card shapes, coloured paper, and pens. Don’t they look amazing? The crafts were free of charge but you could donate some money towards the materials if you wanted.
As the rain had eased off a little, we went to try out the adventure playground. It was very good, if not a little boggy. There was a zip wire (the girls favourite thing) and a four-person cradle swing, which you could get very high. The park’s train stops just next to the park and is very frequent. It runs between the park/Waterside Centre and the main Discovery Centre, though it doesn’t take long to walk between the two if you prefer.
Back in the Discovery Centre and there was plenty to look at. The museum part of the centre is pretty big and there are themed zones. The girls really liked the energy production zone, where they could learn about how electricity is generated.
The museum included child-friendly exhibits on the natural world, and we learned about concepts such as the food chain, and how plants use sunlight. There is also a very good indoor play frame, and a slightly scary ‘mine shaft’ slide.
The Discovery Centre is also home to the park’s cafe, and gift shop.
We spent around six hours at Conkers, despite the rain and could have been there so much longer. We really enjoyed our visit and I’m already being nagged to do a return visit ASAP.
Tips for Conkers –
- Pack baby wipes, and maybe even a small towel.
- Wellies are essential even during dry weather.
- Take a spare change of clothes for everything if you intend staying long after bush craft. You will get dirty. You will smell of smoke. A spare pair of shoes is a good idea too if you want to do both outdoor and indoor activities.
- If you want to do a specific activity, check the website or call them first to make sure it will be available.
- Car parking is free.
- It is signposted off the A42 west of Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
There is lots to do at Conkers – we saw people Go-karting, and also doing water activities. Activity days can be booked in advance via the website.
There is a high ropes course due to open in July 2015. It wasn’t yet open when we visited, much to the older girls’ disappointment. It did look ace.
For more information please visit the website of Visit Conkers
Conkers is one of the five attractions available with the #StayPlayExplore deal
Disclosure – we were guests of Conkers for the day, given fun stuff to do, and plied with lunch. All opinion is our own