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~~~LOCATION AND ACCESS~~~
Cassiobury Park is a large recreational park situated in Watford. It is nearby Watford Grammar School for Boys and is a short few minutes' walk from Watford Metropolitan Line Station.
It covers 190 acres of land, which is mainly of grassy areas with many footpaths and cycle lanes. With its large area, it has many entrances and exits, and is also a short 10 minutes walk from the top of Watford High street, and about 15-20 minutes from Watford High Street Overground station.
At the main entrance, there is a map of the park... not sure if intentional but it looks like a cross section of a penis... :P
The park has a range of facilities including a café called Cha Cha Cha, with benches, and a children's play area. Also there is a bowls club, childrens' paddling pool and a car park at the base of the park. Near the paddling pool is another children's playground. Toilets are also available near the car park BUT they are more often than not locked!
There is also a mini railway which runs a few times a day that takes you round the park.
A river runs through the park in which adjacent to it is a canal. There are hiking trails on both sides and a golf course also runs adjacent to the edge of the base of the park.
~~~APPEAL AND OVERALL~~~
I would recommend this park as it is massive and there is a wide variety of things you can do. I personally would recommend the hiking there is so much ground to cover and just great terrain.
The park is perhaps more friendly towards children with a greater range of activities for them; you often see many children at the paddling pool/ playground area.
ALSO NOTE: they have events such as fun fair and bonfire night on special occasional days.
The park is huge and is well maintained. It is not only recreational but acts as a passage between the stations and provides a great walk into the town centre from the metropolitan line tube station. You will often see wildlife including squirrels and herons which adds a novelty you won't find in many other parks!
I'll let you in on a secret. for a place to get totally wasted and shagged out of you brains in total privacy, Cassio is the place. It's massive. Trees everywhere. Great stuff. However, also great for rape and robbing people. But I've only heard about the latter happening every now and then, not the rape.
Now on to the serious stuff. Cha cha cha's is a cafe about three minutes from the met station, expensive and alright food but lovely staff and lovely sitting area.
Tennis courts and swimming pools and a canal and the stream, lovely fun for the kids.
Long and short grass provide good hide and seek and football areas.
Quiet, large, beautiful even in winter.
Great massive trees. Oaks, if I'm not mistaken.
in summer, the swimming pools open which have different depths for different aged kids. Nice playpark (barkchipped) and also decent enough food from an onsite building by the pool (burgers chips crisps drinks lollies that sor tof thing).
Cassiobury Park is one of those unexpected gems in the middle of urban surroundings that, once discovered, you return to time after time. Situated in the middle of a network of dull but pleasant residential roads in Watford, it contains much more than your average small town park, and is a place that I return to again and again, discovering something new on every visit.
~~facts and figures~~
Cassiobury Park receives around 80,000 visitors every year. It comprises over 190 acres of green space that includes woods, river, canal and open space. Parts of the park have been designated a Local Nature Reserve and the park has won the Green Flag Award.
The history of the park stretches back to the beautiful Cassiobury House, built in 1556, and remodelled by The Earls of Essex. The Essex family lived in Cassiobury House for more than 250 years until it was demolished in 1927. The extensive grounds were sold to the district council in 1909 to create a "people's park and pleasure ground" - and the park has gradually been extended and developed over the years to become the amazing place it is today.
~~fun for children~~
I was initially taken to the park by a friend when my children were little. It was the middle of summer, and after a whole day spent in the park, we all felt as if we had been on a countryside holiday!
--the miniatue railway --
For my boys, the main attraction was the train. This 10.25 inch gauge miniature railway operates on weekends, bank holidays and school holidays, using both a steam and diesel engine to pull the passengers at what seems to be a very fast rate, on a looping half a kilometre of track through the woods. The excitement of this train cannot be underestimated! Because the track is looping and disguised by trees, it seems a lot longer than it is. At the end of the track, the engine driver uses a turning platform, as seen on Thomas the Tank Engine dvds, to turn the train round. A few minutes into the ride you stop, so that the driver can pull closed level crossing type gates and the train can cross the path. Needless to say a huge amount of waving has to take place at this point: the passengers wave to pedestrians on the path; the pedestrians wave back as they wait for the train to cross ; everybody in the park just waves madly. It's fantastic fun.
The railway has been running since 1959 - if you would like technical details or exciting photos, look at www.miniaturerailwayworld.co.uk/Watford
When I used to take the boys, it was 50p a ride.
--the paddling pool--
Running a close second in the excitement stakes is the paddling pools. For some reason, these pools feel a bit like being on the beach. There are three pools of varying size and depth- they are painted bright yellow around their perimeter and gently slope down into the middle. The shallow pool is obviously mainly used by toddlers - the deeper pools attract older children who love to wade out to the fountain it the middle and sit on it.
Toilets are within the pool enclosure and a small shop just outside. The whole area is fenced with a very secure gate, so there are no worries about the children wandering off, and you can just sit by the side of the pool with a book, basking in the sun while the kids have fun.
The pools are open daily between 10am and 7pm from Good Friday to 30th September, and are free of charge.
Always one of the most enticing playgrounds in the area, the main playground by the pool has just had a refurb, and is now even better!
Again, very securely enclosed and safe, the £200,000 rebuild in 2009 contains swings, numerous climbing frames and slides, a granite stone maze, a trampoline and zip wire.
It is suitable for children up to the age of 12.
--other things the children love--
Outside the paddling pool is a picnic area and a smaller playground for younger children (the Cha Cha playground). During summer holidays there is often a bouncy castle in this area.
Further away from the playground is a small river with a rustic bridge crossing it. This has a gently sloping bank and is ideal for paddling on hot summer days.
There is a lot of green space for football, and you can often see a hot air balloon landing on the far side of the park at the end of a summer's day. The paths are ideal for skating around, and there are also the woods and the canal.
Walking over the bridge and the canal, you come straight into the mysterious and unspoilt Whippendell Wood, via small footpaths. Covered with Bluebells in the spring, and an endless source of hiding, climbing and walking all the year round, these ancient woodlands cover 180 acres. Once inside the woods it is possible to spend half a day just walking around and enjoying the woodland experience.
The woods have been used for film locations over the years, including many scenes from Star Wars. When I told my children this, a favourite game was always to ride their imaginary hover bikes through the trees like a young Skywalker.
There are several orienteering courses marked around the wood, and maps showing these can be obtained from Watford Borough Council.
The woods were designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1954, and still contains a rich variety of fungi, trees and fauna today. Some renowned discoveries have taken place in the woods, including the discovery of a fungus, Crepidotus cinnabarinus, in 1995 which is only the fourth European record of this species.
The Grand Union Canal passes straight through Cassiobury Park and is yet another source of fun! A sturdy stone bridge (for some reason called Iron Bridge) crosses the canal over a very beautiful old lock. I have spent hours by the lock with the boys, watching the barges coming through, helping to push the gates back into place for them, or just waving (yet more waving!).
A tow path leads from the park alongside the canal, and you can walk or cycle for miles, watching the boats and the wildlife along the banks.
The Grand Union Canal dates from the late eighteenth century. The northward view from Iron Bridge is picturesque and must be one of the most photographed in Hertfordshire.
The park has several entrances, none of them is better than the other - it just depends on your mode of transport.
The nearest station is Watford Junction on the Metropolitan Line - it is about 20 minutes walk from there.
There are car parks on Gade Avenue as well as plenty of street parking. For satnav users, the postcode is WD18 7LH.
There are several toilet blocks and ice cream vans located throughout the park. There is a small café next to the paddling pool.
The paths are very level and smooth, and very well suited for those with mobility issues.
Enjoy 190 acres of greenery and woodlot stretching from Watford town centre to the west edge of the town's country side.