“PLEEEEEEASE Mum, can we go to the antiques fair?”
Said no child. Ever.
Cotswold Wildlife Park is the UK’s only large zoo that welcomes dogs
With its pretty if sleepy villages, quaint shops and rolling countryside, the Cotswolds is not the obvious place for a rip-roaring adventure.
But just outside Cirencester is Cotswold Water Park, 150 fabulous lakes and wetlands where you can enjoy waterskiing, canoeing, abseiling and archery.
The beautiful Hoburne Cotswold Holiday Park was our base, a well-equipped nest of lodges and caravans by four tranquil private lakes.
Our open-plan lodge was decorated in cool modern tones, with a washing machine and dishwasher in the fitted kitchen.
It didn’t stop there, with indulgent en-suite bathroom, walk-in dressing area and a private deck.
Some lodges even have a hot tub.
Hit the water at South Cerney Outdoor for paddle-boarding and canoeing
Best of all, Hoburne welcomes dogs — and Dudley, our giant golden doodle, was delighted to be along for the adventure.
With acres of surrounding nature trails, his daily walks were a joy, with swans and otters to look out for.
While my daughter Poppy, 11, and her friend Scarlett tore off to explore, we cracked open a bottle of bubbly and enjoyed the evening sun on our deck.
They returned full of excitement, having already invested their pocket money at the site shop and arcade.
Like most operators, Hoburne has made adjustments to keep everyone safe.
The pedalos were shut but the girls made a splash in the indoor and outdoor pools.
Hoburne’s Cotswold Water Park was developed on reclaimed quarry land and each lake is purpose-built for a particular sportCredit: HETHERINGTON World-Wide Copyright
Numbers are limited and you must book in advance but it was well organised.
With no changing facilities open, it felt slightly surreal heading for a dip in our swimsuits and masks.
But the sun came out and a G&T at the poolside bar, with a stunning view of the lake, helped the strain of recent months melt away.
After an interesting game of crazy golf, with the added challenge of a large dog blocking the holes, we were ready for dinner.
Brasserie 1912 on site didn’t disappoint.
As the hubby tucked into steak and chips, I had a delicious chicken, bacon and avocado salad while the girls shared tapas-style halloumi sticks, chicken wings and spring rolls.
George the 85-year-old giant tortoise is served 50th anniversary cake by a keeper at the Cotswold Wildlife ParkCredit: PIC PAUL NICHOLLS
The day’s action easily wiped out the brownie sundaes for pudding.
Next door was action-packed, too, as we hit the water at South Cerney Outdoor, a couple of minutes’ drive away, for paddle-boarding and canoeing.
Go sailing, windsurfing or kayaking if you prefer.
My husband took a waterskiing session at the neighbouring Lakeside Ski.
Cotswold Water Park was developed on reclaimed quarry land and each lake is purpose-built for a particular sport.
The waterski lakes are long, narrow and designed to stay calm even on windy days.
If watersports aren’t your thing there’s all sorts of other activities to keep you occupied like archery, golf and horse-ridingCredit: Hetherington
If watersports are not your thing, alternatives include angling, archery, high ropes, golf and horse-riding, or channel your inner Bear Grylls and learn wilderness skills.
You can feel sand between your toes at the country’s largest inland paddling beach.
Or the Cotswold Country Park and Beach is also home to awesome Total Wipe Out-style inflatable AquaVenture Pods.
We couldn’t turn down a visit the nearby Cotswold Wildlife Park, the UK’s only large zoo that welcomes dogs.
Dudley was delighted to sniff around the grounds on his lead.
He wasn’t quite sure what to make of George the giant tortoise — and definitely thought twice about trying to chase any of those really big cats at the lion enclosure.
The gardens are simply stunning and recently featured on BBC’s Gardener’s World.
The restaurant is closed at the moment but there are kiosks selling drinks and snacks.
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Our picnic lunch overlooked the rhinos’ area and was absolute bliss.
It wouldn’t be a British holiday without a downpour so, with dark skies looming, we packed up, left our cosy lodge for the final time and hit Cirencester on our final day for a spot of . . . antique shopping!
I’m sure the kids loved it.
STAYING THERE: A three-night short break at…
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