Cotswolds Holidays aren’t often described as ‘extreme’ but thanks to a relatively recent innovation over the last 20 years things are a little different here if you would like them to be! As an island nation, we are blessed with a natural coastline that provides a stunning backdrop for a wealth of water-based activities. But did you know that there are some artificially created locations that are just as spectacular, and offer some of the UK’s best extreme water sports?
The Cotswold Water Park, situated in the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire countryside and a very popular holiday destination, is an area that has seen change from its original days, where it was originally the location of extensive gravel extraction for over 50 years. As the mining was open-cast, i.e. above the ground, it meant there were huge gaping craters left in the landscape. This gave some local entrepreneurs an interesting idea – fill these craters with water to create lakes and then create a tourist destination around these lakes!
Today there are now 150 lakes comprising the Water Park today. The Park is open all year round, and offers outdoor activities including sailing, canoeing and swimming.
Extreme Sports at the Park
For adrenaline junkies however, there is the chance to participate in some really daring and extreme water sports. The Park employs qualified staff that are fully trained and able to provide a fun and exciting time for visitors, and there are also clubs with memberships that allow guests to meet on certain days and take part in various organised activities.
Here are some of the more popular extreme water sports you can take part in:
Channel your inner Bear Grylls by taking up membership of the Triathlon and Open Water Swimming Training, otherwise known as Wild Swimming! Members of this group can swim in Lake 32, which is about two metres deep, with buoyed courses of 400m, 750m, and 1000m. Swimmers can take to the lake on any day before 10.00 am and also on a Tuesday and Thursday evenings after 17.30hrs. Those with a full membership are also allowed to enter the Triathlon events that take place in the Park, and the Aquathons, which comprises of a 750m open water swim and 2 lap, 4.6km run around Lake 32. Open Water swimming is tough and demanding, but it is also extremely rewarding and will get those muscles and heart pumping.
For those searching for a more fun option, and slightly less energetic or physically demanding time on the water, why not try one of the Park’s inflatable rides? Take to the water at high speeds, and choose between being pulled along on a giant banana, donut or even a UFO. There are rides suitable for up to 2 people, or if you are part of a larger party then check out the new Stingrays rides which accommodate 6. For even larger groups, why not book a ‘Wild Water Party’, which includes a fun water ride and a meal at the Lakeside Brasserie. Just bring along some swimwear and towels, some bravery tablets(!!!) as the Park supplies everything else.
Water-skiing & Water Boarding
I bet you didn’t know that at the Cotswold Water Park there are lakes that have been specifically built for certain activities. Amongst these are several sheltered, purpose built lakes that have been designed for water-skiing and water boarding. These replicate the ideal conditions for water-skiing and boarding and comprise of narrow waters, central bunds and banks, all to ensure calmer waters on windier days. The Park has experts who offer lessons on water-skiing and wakeboarding to children as young as 3, with courses for novices and the more established. Lessons are on a one-to-one basis and boast a very high success rate, with many learners able to ski or water board after the first lesson. There’s also a slalom course combined with a ‘zero off’ speed control on the ski boat for more experienced water-skiers.
There is also a cable version of water skiing which allows the novice to build their courage before stepping, literally, on the water behind a boat.
With three children I know how important it is to create (positive) memories when on holiday. Living in the Cotswolds has it benefits for certain but having access to these fun activities certainly creates a positive vibe and experience for all of us and with this in mind we’d certainly recommend giving serious thought to mucking about on the water.
Given that the Cotswold Water Park is so popular, Manor Cottages as you’d expect, have a wide selection of Cotswold holiday cottages and self-catering properties nearby. The Lower Mill Estate, for example, has contemporary, sleek holiday homes with access to multi £million Spa facilities, plus there are attractive, traditional cottages to choose from. Villages such as South Cerney offer period homes, while Cirencester can offer a town base as an option.