Haigh Hall County park is a place which holds many happy memories for me.
From picnics in the park when I was little, school trips to explore the woodland, to having my school leavers do there the week before my 16th birthday – it’s always been somewhere that I’ve loved going to and felt a strange connection to. It’s one of the first places Michael and I took his nephew, when we’d first got together. Jack was a little older than what Alfie is now when I first met him and he loved trains, (much like Alfie does now), so when we went with Jack, we took him on the little train and I remember how happy he was and it was the first time I’d seen what an amazing bond Michael had with his nephew, which made me love him even more. When Alfie was 10 weeks old, we went there for his first photo shoot and had some pictures taken around the grounds and my favourite one was under a tree, which I have on a large canvas at home.
When it came to booking our wedding, there was only one place that I wanted to have our reception – Haigh Hall. It was local enough for everyone, the grounds are stunning and if it was to rain on the day, then there was a huge grand staircase inside that we could use for the photos.
My award winning wedding florist, AM Flowers is also based within the grounds, in the courtyard and even now I love going back to the shop to see all the displays in the window and the rows and rows of simply stunning bouquets inside. They are also venue dressers and one of my biggest regrets is not realising this when I was planning my wedding. Thinking they were only a florist, I booked someone else to do the room dressing, which, while it was lovely, I didn’t have that WOW feeling that I know I would’ve had if I’d have chosen AM Flowers to do it. You can see from the photo below just how stunning their bouquets are, and the attention to detail is in display’s is like nothing I’ve seen before.
There’s a little café where you could go for a hot meal on the colder days and Summer always meant there would be an ice cream van and a bouncy castle and little kiddy rides and hundreds of kids running round, families enjoying picnic’s, dog walkers going for a stroll and a chat with their pets.
One thing that was let it down though was the park. For such a huge county park, the play area was only a very, very small part of this. There was a couple of swings, a slide and climbing frame and a little train climbing frame and not really very much else. One thing that I didn’t like was that it was all on sand. Over time, this had become littered with bits of rubbish, sharp glass, cigarette butts. Not really the kind of place you want your children playing! You can see a little bit of the park in the picture below, but this was pretty much the park.
So, earlier in year when they had done the park up and moved it so they could create a bigger space, I was very much looking forward to seeing what they’d done with it. I went on Friday last week with Alfie and my in-laws and was absolutely blown away! It’s been renamed to Haigh Woodland Park and it’s without a doubt the best play area I’ve been to with Alfie and even my in-laws who have travelled all over taking the children to various parks, were blown away by how brilliant it is. As we were there on a Friday lunch time, it was relatively quiet, so I managed to snap some pictures of the new park.
The following day, my in-laws decided to go back with our niece and nephew, so we decided we would go too. Alfie had an absolutely brilliant time playing with his cousins and Michael got stuck right in too. If truth be told, I think he enjoyed it more than the kids 😉
As you walk in, you are greeted with a large woodland climbing frame which has climbing nets, a fireman’s pole and two slides. Behind that, there’s a game to play where the poles light up and make noises and you’ve got to hit as many as you can in 30 seconds. All three kids loved this and played on it a few times. There’s also a really large rope swing, a metal sea saw which spins around, there’s a zip wire, a sunken ship, a little hill for climbing up, similar to a rock climbing wall and an area where the swings are going to go and they’ve got a huge climbing frame with a rope bridge to walk across. They also have a toddler area, which is a smaller version of the larger park, but this is on sand and they’ve got a couple of diggers in it, which Alfie loved playing on. One thing that I was actually very impressed with is the AstroTurf they’ve used. It’s all really soft, but under certain areas, such as the swings and sea saw area, where there is more risk of falling, they’ve made it extra soft and it almost bounces as you walk on it. I saw a couple of children fall off the sea saw and it really seemed to cushion their fall. Which for us mama’s is always a bonus! They have really thought of everything!
At 3, Alfie loved all aspects of the park. He really enjoyed playing on the bigger park and going down the humongous slide and fireman’s pole (which was so high that I almost didn’t let him go on)!
I am so pleased that they’ve invested this money into Haigh Hall. It’s very close to our house and is somewhere I can definitely see us spending many summer days there, not only this year, but in years to come. I said to my mother in law that next year when the baby is here, it will be the absolute perfect place to go over Summer especially – Alfie can enjoy himself on the park, whilst I could stay shaded on a picnic blanket with the baby and there’ll be enough room for the baby to toddle about. It really is somewhere you could go and spend the whole day, especially as they are also doing the courtyard up and giving the café a makeover.
Not only have they invested in the play area, but planning permission has also recently been approved to turn the wonderful historic hall into a hotel and spa. Being as it’s right on my door step and the same village where my parents live, I really cannot wait to try it out. I’m already planning to go for our anniversary once it’s opened.
We really are so lucky to have Haigh Hall County Park so close to us and I know we are going to make so many more family memories here over the years. There is just something so ordinary and so simple about watching kids play at the park, without a care in the world and making their own games up and I can’t wait until I can watch both of my children making memories at this gorgeous park.