Wednesday 18 January 2017

Conkers, Derbyshire

Conkers, situated in the National Forest, is advertised as a world of adventure and discovery for the whole family but is it suitable for a two year old? 

Well, we visited Conkers on a damp New Years Eve. With a day free and some Tesco Days Out vouchers to use up, we found it to be the nearest place to visit.

Exterior of Conkers visitors centre

We arrived around 11.30, expecting it to be much busier than it was, and made our way inside to pay our entrance fee. The Tesco voucher covered most of it and we only had to pay £2.00 as Joseph was free! Although we were warmly welcomed, the assistant that took our payment was new and training and failed to tell us which way to go and both us and another family wandered round aimlessly for a couple of minutes.

To add to some of the confusion the staff were preparing for Conker's New Years Eve event and visitors had to pass through the hosting area to reach the main part of the centre and back again to reach the restaurant. As they prepared a number of the external doors were blocked off, open and then blocked again, so you found yourself not knowing which door to use. This said the staff tried to ensure there was adequate space to walk through and the family focused New Years Eve party looked like it could be quite fun and something to consider in the future.

When we reached the main area we quickly discovered the Enchanted Forest play zone but unfortunately as we went to enter we saw a notice that advised it wasn't suitable for under 4's, so Joseph couldn't play in there. I was surprised by this and personally think the age restrictions aren't made clear on the website.

Next, we took a look at the map and ventured outside and noticed another family making their way to the waiting train, Conkerchoo, that takes you over to the Waterside Centre. We had already been told part of the area was closed over but as the playground was open we ventured aboard. Joseph loves trains and the Conkerchoo went down a storm with him. 

Mummy, Daddy and little boy on a theme park land train

Smiling little boy, wrapped up in a winter coat and hat

We had a good long play on the park and then ventured into the centre to see if any food or refreshments were on offer. 

Little boy being pushed on the swings by his Daddy

Little boy on a slide being watched by his Daddy Little boy on a slide being watched by his Daddy

Little boy and Daddy on a rope walk swing

Sadly, there wasn't and as much as we tried to persuade Joseph to have a go in the soft play area (which there's an additional charge for) he was having none of it, being slight put off by the bigger children. We made our way back to the Discovery Centre on Conkerchoo and had some lunch in the restaurant.

Now, I have to say that I imagined the restaurant would be like similar places we've visited, Overpriced and not very good. This is certainly not the case! The food is fresh, tasty and reasonably priced. We grown ups opted for soup and babs just had a plate of chips as he'd been eating most the morning! The portions were great. We saw another family that we'd chatted to in the restaurant and they had jacket potatoes. Again, the portions were fantastic!

After lunch we took a stroll around the maze and had a walk in the sensory area, calling at another play area on the way back to the centre.

Little boy in a pushchair, playing with an outdoor musical wooden toy

Little boy running towards a park

Little boy running on a park drawbridge

Little boy on a play park tower

Little boy a slide being watched by his Daddy   Little boy on a slide being helped by his Daddy

As much as we enjoyed our visit to Conkers, I personally think that at two and a half Joseph was a bit too young. Having one area closed off due to it being used for the Winter Wonderland, which had recently ended, and another being prepared for an event was a little disappointing BUT we enjoyed ourselves despite this and the staff we met we friendly and polite. I would have been very disappointed if we had paid full price like some families. 

I think it will be a while before we visit Conkers again but I'm sure we'll be back when Joseph is older and he can enjoy all it has to offer. I think going with an older child, when the centre doesn't have as much going on would be a completely different experience. 

Now, the important stuff. The car park is big and there's no extra charge! Winner! There's plenty of loo's but the baby changing is completely separate and there's no toilet in the room. The day we visited it could have done with a clean but this could have been forgotten about as the staff prepared for the evening event. 

Take a look at their website and consider Conkers for a day out if you've got children aged five and above.


Mummy Snowy Owl

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