Splash Pads, paddling pools and outdoor swimming - water play in the north east

 Splash Pads Outdoor Pools Paddling Pools in the North East Sprog on the Tyne

Okay, so we might not get many hot days, but when the sun is shining there is nothing quite like playing in water for kids. In the North East we are really lucky to have a quite a few options for where to cool down when it warms up. Lets face it though, we could have a cold and wet summer and most kids would still love to play in a splash pad or take a dip in a paddling pool. Read on for some ideas about where to head and information about opening hours. 

** Please note opening times etc have been taken from websites, and getting in tough with the operators. It's always best to check with the operator before setting off for any unplanned closures, to save any disappointment **

splash pads

 Chester-El-Street splash pad in 2016.

Chester-El-Street splash pad in 2016.

chester-le-street riverside park

We discovered this splash pad the week before it closed last year. Even though it was completely clouded over my toddler absolutely loved it. We ended up going back a few days later to play some more. The splash pad is really big, with loads of different fountains, pouring spouts and even a movable water jet thing, so that you can aim it at your friends. Both times we visited it was during the school day, so it was really quiet, but we saw signs which explained there was a system in place for busy days, where  you were allowed in the splash pad a certain amount of time, to enable the most people to get use out of it. They do pre-school sessions on Mondays and Fridays in June though, so a great time to visit if you have a toddler. It's totally free (although car parking charges apply - £2 for 4 hours), and as the park in Chester-le-Street is so big it is a brilliant day out. 

Open from 27 May until 10 September 2017. Opening days and times are:

  • Weekends, and school holidays* from 10.00am to 6.00pm
  • Throughout June, pre-school sessions every Monday and Friday, from 11.00am to 3.00pm
  • *School holidays dates are: 29 May to Friday 4 June (half term) and from 3 July to 10 September 2017
 My Big Toddler, looking not so big here. Taken at Chester-le-Street splash pad in 2016. 

My Big Toddler, looking not so big here. Taken at Chester-le-Street splash pad in 2016. 

Ridley Park - Blyth

I've visited Ridley Park and even did one of my first (cringe worthy) blog posts about it, but I've never been when then Splash Pad is in operation. It is quite a bit smaller than Chester-le-Street with less fountains etc, but the good thing is that this one is now open every day. We visited last week, expecting it to open at 12pm, but were disappointed that it didn't come on. From checking the sign in the park - photographed below - it looks like it doesn't run if its been raining at any point which it had on the day we were there. Lots of thanks go to @danconwaytv for letting me share the  video below which shows how much fun it looks.

So the Northumberland council webpage states, 'It is currently open 12pm to 6pm daily although it may not operate when repairs are required. Updates on any essential maintenance work will appear on our website or by contacting NCC Customer Service Centre. ' 

Kids + water = happy times

A post shared by Dan Conway (@danconwaytv) on

alnwick gardens

I very nearly forgot to include this one as it isn't set out as a traditional Splash Pad, but I'm glad that I didn't as I've been to Alnwick Gardens a few times and in rain or shine, summer or winter, there are always some children getting soaked in their water play area. The photograph below was shared on instagram by Alnwick Gardens and shows one bit of the interactive water features in The Serpent Garden. Their website says, "A serpent-shaped yew hedge leads the visitor to eight water sculptures, each hidden within the scales of the serpent and designed by William Pye. Each sculpture is interactive and explores a different aspect of the behaviour and physics of water." It is open whenever the gardens are, and times are given below. There is a cost to visit, but it is a lovely day out and lots to see, so I would recommend it if you are planning on going for the whole day. 

Summer Opening Times
31st March – 31st October
Daily 10.00am – 6.00pm

Tickets - £12.10 adults, £4.40 Children, under 4s are free. Car Parking is £3.

It has been a good day to get wet in our Serpent Garden. Beautiful start to #Easter for everyone!

A post shared by Alnwick Garden (@alnwickgarden) on


Exhibition Park in Newcastle

This is probably more of a water feature than a splash pad, but it is big enough that the kids will be drenched within five minutes of playing there. Now there are no details on the website about the opening times, but I have a feeling this one is open whenever the park is. When I took this video there was a little sign next to it saying that to operate the water feature you needed to use the foot pump, so don't be put off if its not on when you get there - it's not meant to be, but doesn't mean that it isn't working. 


Whitley Bay Water Park

By far the smallest of the four Splash Pads, but if you live locally then it's still a great option when the sun is shining. It's located right next to Marine Park, and when we visited a few weeks ago the water was already on (although it looked FREEZING!). To see photographs of it then click this link. It is free to use, and there are parking spaces nearby. They are free in the small car park next to Marine Park, and then there are charges on some of the side streets. 

Opening Times

Whitley Bay Water Park is open every day from Easter Weekend to the end of September 10am to 6pm.

Paddling Pool

Carlisle Park - Morpeth

 Carlisle Park paddling pool in Morpeth in 2015. 

Carlisle Park paddling pool in Morpeth in 2015. 

Despite much googling this is the only proper paddling that I can find in the North East. I was last there in 2015! But we will be visiting again this year. Apart from the paddling pool it's a really nice park. Quite a big section for little kids and then a section for older kids with a massive slide. Sprog on the Tyne exclusive here, as I couldn't find opening times anywhere online, but after emailing the town clerk, they have confirmed the padding pool is open from Saturday 27 May and the opening times are:  9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Outdoor Swimming Pools

Haltwhistle Swimming Pool

If you travel 45 minutes out of Newcastle then you can visit a proper outdoor pool - slides and all, at Haltwhistle. They actually have 3 outdoor heated pools. There are images to view here. Now in addition to it being a bit of a trek, it isn't all that cheap, with adults tickets at £9.30, and children's at £7.80, but it looks to be a really good day out. I think that we will make the trip this summer, let us know if you have been and would recommend it. Open everyday, but check the website as they sometimes close for parties.

Weardale Open Air Pool

If you head 45 minutes in the direction of Stanhope then there is another outdoor pool. This one doesn't have a slide, but there is a little play area for kids. It's also much cheaper at £4 for adults and £2.75 for children. They open on Saturday 27 May at 2pm, and the usual opening times can be found on their website. 


Which one has caught your eye? Do you have any other recommendations that I've missed? Drop us a comment below. 

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 Chester-le-Street Splash Pad 2015

Chester-le-Street Splash Pad 2015