Bookings are now open for the new play area at California Country Park, which will open from 24 April. Wokingham Borough Council has completed the construction of the new facilities in Finchampstead.
The booking system will be in place at peak times to ensure social distancing can be maintained and staff and visitors are kept safe. Tickets are free but must be booked ahead of time between 10am and 4pm on weekends, school holidays and bank holidays. These will run in one hour play slots, limited to 100 children at one time, and will be bookable for the following entry times – 10am, 11.15am, 12.30pm, 1.45pm and 3pm.
The new play area can be roughly split into two areas – the Sensory Garden and the Wild Wood. The Sensory Garden is designed with younger children in mind, although most of the equipment is suitable for a range of ages and abilities, including a variety of imaginative water play equipment. It provides a space where children can investigate and discover their world through creative play or test their physical abilities in more active play.
The Wild Wood is designed to physically challenge older children and teenagers. It includes three different tree houses of varying heights and level of challenge wrapped around existing pine trees. There’s a rope and pole agility course climbing pyramid and a zip wire, as well as sound cushions and carved woodland animals at ground level to add interest for younger children.
Throughout the play area, natural elements such as logs, boulders, water, timber and the trees help create a space that connects children to nature and provide a sense of wellbeing. The play area includes a range of inclusive and interactive equipment – including a spinning disc, swings, musical chime walkway and a trampoline that are suitable for wheelchair users.
Additional seating has been created, for parents and carers as well as visitors using the paddling pool. Other improvements to the café, public toilets and car parks were completed in preparation for the new play area earlier in the year, including a changing places facility for disabled users.
The play area is designed to have year-round appeal for local families and their children. Accessibility has also been improved with new surfaced paths to the paddling pool, café and toilets.
Bookings can be made via the California Country park webpages and will be for one hour slots only. Do not book back to back slots, otherwise we will not be able to accommodate all of the children and families needing to use the facility. If you book back to back sessions you will still be required to exit upon the ‘time up’ whistle and will be refused entry on to the next session.
Any visits outside these times will not be ticketed and the play park will remain open. Outside of these peak times we ask parents and guardians to decide to enter the play area based on how busy it is. If it looks busy, it is; walk on and visit another time. If the park becomes busy outside the advertised peak hours, we will extend these to match demand and ensure social distancing can be maintained.
Clare Lawrence, assistant director for place services, said: “We’re delighted to be able to open this play area and look forward to welcoming people soon. It offers an exciting array of play options for children of all ages. If you’re planning to visit over the next few months, be sure to check whether to book in advance, especially if visiting at weekends or during the holidays, or face disappointment on arrival.”
The children’s play area at California Country Park is located near lake front and café. There is a circular path around Longmoor Lake providing easy access for pushchairs. The path currently has a floating pontoon in place as part of the loop as we are carrying out improvements to the dam on the lake over the next few months. The play area is also just a short walk away from the orange bog and heathland, which forms part of our Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) status for the park.
For more details and frequently asked questions, including parking arrangements and how the park will be run at peak times, visit the California Country Park webpages.