Around 18 months ago, when Josef our athletic dog was still alive, we needed to stretch our legs on our homeward journey from the North of England. How lucky we were that on the A47, we saw signs for the Nene Country Park, within which is Ferry Meadows a vast area of leisure space for humans and dogs alike. The main car park is huge (fees apply) and with a number plate recognition system you can pay online if you are out of change or even forget to pay! As the Nene Park Trust is not state funded and offered us so much enjoyment, we were happy to pay up. This is such a great resource that we have returned many times because of its diversity, which truly has something for everyone.
We had a great romp around on a huge open space, but if you fancy a gentle stroll, level pathways make this the easiest place to get around that we know. We always find there are lots of walkers and runners about, while others use dog strollers, child push chairs, cycles, wheel chairs or mobility scooters. We have even seen a child driving his motorised car, complete with parasol on a hot day (see the right of the picture)
Ferry Meadows offer an amazing range of activities, including outdoor learning opportunities for children. There is also a wide ranging and ongoing programme for grown ups or kids making this a really interesting place. It is a absolute treasure, and we can hardly believe it is less than three miles from Peterborough city centre!
In the Visitor Centre, we found a written code of conduct for visitors to the park and as dogs we are asked to be responsible and to care for everyone and everything, which of course we do. We are constantly delighted and amazed that we have not seen one single dog poo lying around on any of our visits.
Of course, most canines are interested in facilities for doggy days out and for the athletic pooch there is a permanent agility course.
On our very first visit, although Josef had not done agility since he was injured about two years previously, on that first and subsequent visits he was ready to go, and enjoyed this break from his retirement.
Dolly and I have both visited the course since, but resisted the allure of the swinging tyre, the tunnel, jumps, the board walk and weaving poles! At our age, we prefer to do agility while asleep and dreaming of the days when these things would have really excited and challenged us.
Over the years, we have seen hundreds of dogs at Ferry Meadows. I am not sure why, but Mum is consistently amazed at their good behaviour and their goodwill towards other pooches. Just look at their phtoos in our gallery.
Perhaps this exemplary canine behaviour has something to do with Ferry Meadows vast acreage where dogs can run freely and have new adventures. There is no possibility of getting bored here with mown and rough grass areas, trees, and walkways to keep us playful and busy. In winter, the walkways are best if our humans do not want us to get wet or muddy, but in summer when the pavements are too hot for our paws, the grassy areas are the place to be.
When schools are out, on Bank Holidays and weekends there are usually lots of families around as well as couples and loan walkers, but as Ferry Meadows is so huge no dog is likely to be overwhelmed. With many areas dedicated to specific interests, this is truly a land of discovery but be warned, you will never want to visit just once!
I guess it is impossible to get truly lost because the parks facilities are well signposted. The play areas, lakes, wildlife hides, bluebell woods, a miniature railway, and a couple of cafés are easily found. If you need a map, these are available from the Visitor Centre. We are delighted with Ferry Meadows dog friendliness. Even in the café we have always been treated like royalty by the young, enthusiastic staff. There are plenty of picnic tables for visitors, and a magnificent ice cream place, where adult and child size cones are served. As ice craem aficionado, we rate it very highly.
As if that were not enough, opposite the visitor centre/café area is a huge lake. Being such a lovely view it is no wonder that the picnic tables are always occupied by people wanting fill their eyes as they treat their tummies.
If you have good sea legs, you can even take a boat trip around the lake, embarking at a little landing stage near the visitor centre. As Mum always carries the kitchen sink in our stroller bag, we have always felt it better not to go on a boat ride for fear of sinking the vessel!
We have found three lakes at Ferry Meadows, and walked around the largest one (by accident). However, we find the smaller of the three just about right for our tiny legs, Dolly taking short breaks in the stroller as she is an older dog. We are always in awe of the beautiy around us, and marvel at how well it is maintained by the dedicated staff team.
We love some of the wood carvings in the park. Children seem to like sitting on the duck who has her little babies tucked into her side.
Mum, who loves steam engines, always likes to see the miniature railway, which runs around the grounds in the summer, at Bank Holidays and some weekends. Its route is from the main car park area, round to a terminus closer to another huge restaurant area.
Although we love visitor centre area of the parkland, we have also visited the café on the other side of Ferry Meadows, where there is a further car park if you don't fancy walking there, or catching the train. Approached via steps or a gentle slope, this café is much larger and seems to serve a wider range of food.
This café stands on the shores of a large lake, from where canoes can be hired. With a viewing platform, what could be nicer than having a coffee while watching the world go by? I have never asked but I imagine that lots of birds frequent this vast area, so it might be worth taking along your binoculars.
In our opinion no visit to Ferry Meadows is complete without looking round the very dog friendly Visitor Centre Shop, which carries many unique.attractive items for sale. More importantly, it is completely dog friendly, the staff always make a huge fuss of us! Do not leave before guiding your humans to the doggy area. just inside the door to check out the treats you would like to take home. We find that feigning starvation is helpful in this corner, but be sure to grab your human's credit card before they hide it away!
Need I say that we love this place? In fact, Mum is getting a parking season ticket, so we know that lots more visits are on the horizon. We love the freedom to walk unhindered by noisy traffic and the worry and stress of modern life. Dogs and humans of all ages seem to love the peace here, and revel in the many wonders of the natural world we encounter on our walks. We recommend this oasis of calm on the outskirts of the city of Peterborough UK, and guarantee that on your visit you will have a great time and and be eager to return time and again.
Editor, The Daxington Post
9th January 2017