Three Go Mad in Dorset … Waterpark
Bounce, slide and splash your way across a giant inflatable, floating obstacle course – and not just for kids
The Muddies new favourite thing: bouncing, sliding and boiiiiiinging on the jumps, trampolines, bridges, flip bag, ladders – and more – of the awesome floating inflatable obstacle course that is the Dorset Waterpark. Set on two lakes surrounded by woodland at the foot of Corfe Castle on the Isle of Purbeck, the location’s idyllic, don’t you agree?
The place feels like a rather cool campsite, with utilitarian, on trend timber clad buildings – reception, changing rooms, lockers and loos – with wide stone-edged paths, a little hillside and of course, the woodland lakes.
The water can be nippy so wetsuits are a good idea (though not essential) and you do need to wear old trainers or wetsuit boots. Bring your own or hire there for a few quid. They were selling last season’s wetsuits – good quality, £20 – if you’re on the lookout for one. Everyone gets fitted up with a bouyancy aid, of course.
After a 10-minute safety talk, it’s off to Castle Lake…
…so that the bouncing can begin. It’s not just for kids – those wetsuits come in large sizes, you know – but if you’re not going in, you can watch from the decking pathways.
There’s a rough route but you can go any which way.
It’s well supervised but not oppressively so. I’ve been to some places where all you hear is the whistle but here it feels very low key. There are plenty of lifeguards in bright yellow tops keeping an eye on what’s going on. They’re really friendly and fun, are on hand to hoick people up out of the water and back up onto the bouncy stuff and will happily jump on the flip bag to send you flying into the water.
He won’t eat you…
After half an hour, it’s over to Woodlands Lake, where there’s a different course topped and tailed by a row of monkey rings at one end that seemed to be defeating everyone and a tight rope at the other.
Little woodland paths circle the lakes, with places to stop and watch or have lunch. I told you it was idyllic.
You get half an hour on each lake, which is just about right amount of time as it’s quite tiring. The Muddies were happy (but, as ever, last) to come off the lake but even as they did, they were asking when they could come back.
Bring your own picnic if you’re well organised; if you’re not, the little Snack Shack sells a short menu of reasonably priced bacon and sausage baps, a burger, Purbeck ice cream tubs, hunks of deliciously cinnamony homemade Dorset apple cake – and a darned good cup of coffee. Rob, who owns the water park with his partner Liz (who was on duty at the reception) cares a lot about the coffee. Either way you get to enjoy the view, try out the log seesaw and watch the resident flock of quails.
Tables were set for someone’s party. They do all sort of party packages: birthdays, hen and stag dos, even team building (Muddy HQ are you reading this?).
Don’t forget to say hi to the pigs – are they Gloucester Old Spots? You can buy little bags of pellets to feed ’em.
We were there on a gorgeous, sunny day but this place is an option for rainy days too (skip the picnic). You’re only going to get wet anyway, aren’t you?
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Bouncing good fun in a stunning location. Just one session, together with a picnic or a burger is easily a morning or afternoon out. Throw in a visit to the National Trust Corfe Castle opposite or the traditional seaside town of Swanage just 15 minutes down the road and you’ve got a whole day.
Good for: funsters from 6 years + who can swim, although 12 years or under must be accompanied on the water by an adult. Good for rainy days as well as sunny – they only cancel sessions in thunderstorms.
Not for: non-swimmers – you must be confident in the water and be able to swim 50m. You don’t have to be super fit but you do have to be able to pull yourself out of the water, although the lifeguards will give you a helping hand.
£££: Excellent value at £15/person for an hour’s session and even better if you book 7 days in advance, when it’s only £12.50. Wetsuit hire £5, wetsuit boots £2. I would definitely book in advance.
Open from April to October, weekends and 7 days a week during school holidays, from 10am until 6pm. Plenty of space to park.
Just a tip: the postcode won’t take you right to the water park. If you’re coming from Corfe Castle, look out for the brown ‘tourist attraction’ sign to the water park and then turn left onto the B3351 and they’re about 400m on the left. If you’re coming from the Swanage side, they’re just after the last sharp bend on the Studland Road (B3351) before you get to Corfe Castle, on the right.
Dorset Waterpark, Studland Road, Corfe Castle BH20 5JG. Tel 01929 505030. dorsetwaterpark.co.uk