Days Out | Thoresby Park

Image title reads 'days out visiting thoresby park, nr. ollerton, nottinghamshire, NG22 9EP,' Image to the right is of Thoresby hall and Gardens

After the success of visiting Yorkshire Wildlife Park we decided to venture out again. Initially we planned to head to Rufford Abbey Country Park but found that it was pre-paid parking only and though we have an annual pass, the people we were meeting didn't so we took a detour instead and headed towards Thoresby Park.

Do I need to book in advance to visit Thoresby Park

You do not need to pre-book to visit Thoresby Park. It is a case of arriving on the day and hoping that there is space available. The park has recently undergone development to allow for a much larger car park, though it is likely to be full on the weekends. We arrived around noon and there was ample parking but as we left around 3pm the car park was full and we had someone waiting for our space. Previously car parking has been free but parking is now chargeable at a rate of £1 for the first hour or £3 all day. Annual passes are available at a cost of £30 plus a £10 security deposit.

What to expect when you arrive at Thoresby Park

When first entering Thoresby Park you are greeted by a parking barrier. In order to lift the barrier you are required to touch a button to release a ticket. This isn't ideal in the current climate as every driver who enters will have touched this button. There is perhaps no way around this situation but it does make me anxious especially as we didn't see any staff members in the car park during our visit and so cannot say whether this button is being cleaned regularly. 

The new car park has ample spaces but no consideration has been made for socially distant parking. Cars are parked alongside each other as normal. This isn't a major issue but it does require people to use common sense if they are getting out their car at the same time as those parked next to them. 

The pathways from the car park to the grounds are quite narrow but there is ample space on the grass verges either side to adhere to social distancing. 

How well can you adhere to social distancing at Thoresby Park?  

Visiting Thoresby Park During The Coronavirus Pandemic Katrina Over 30s UK blogger talking about parenting, autism, mental health, books and coeliac disease.
Once inside the grounds themselves there is no excuse not to adhere to social distancing. There is an abundance of open space and even on a sunny Sunday there was ample space for people to picnic, play and relax in the great outdoors. 

There are of course winding pathways through the fields off the main grassed area that can still be accessed. These areas are not well suited to social distancing but we found people to be polite and more than willing to wait their turn by standing to one side (we also moved aside where appropriate). 

Some areas were busy such as the grassed area near the toilets and down by the stream but people had set up their individual areas well outside of 2 metres of each other. 

When we first arrived at 12pm and walked past the courtyard it did seem very busy. The entrance to the courtyard is quite narrow so you will inevitably have to walk past people to access/exit the courtyard but it would only be for a few seconds. I will say that I found it very annoying that people stood in the entrance having a chat and blocking access/exit for others. It would have been very easy to move aside where there was ample space.

What facilities are available at Thoresby Park?

The main thing for us is that the toilets were open. It's so stressful going anywhere with a potty training toddler and an anxious mummy so we need to have access to toilets. Though the toilets are open they are very poorly managed. I appreciate that they are located in a narrow hallway and there's no way of implementing a one way system but there should be staff members directing people into the toilets. The male and female toilet doors are next door to each other, you can't access one without blocking the other. 

Inside the women's toilets there is no room to wait if all the cubicles are occupied (only the first and final cubicles are open to allow for social distancing) but as the toilet doors come from a square foyer there is no way of knowing if anyone is waiting until you're already in there and once you're in there there's no space for you to wait. This led to a cluster of women all trying to find a space 2 metres apart to wait their turn. If you left and waited outside you'd lose your space. It would be so much easier to have an attendant outside waving you through when a cubicle became available. That way people could queue in a socially distant manner outside the toilet foyer and there would only be 2 women in the toilet at any one time. Also the hand dryers were switched on leading people to dry their hands and blow their germs around the room. I found it very unpleasant having to move to the other side of the room whilst a woman dried her hands. On a more positive note there was hand sanitizer in the hallway outside the toilets. 

A majority of the shops within the courtyard appeared to be open and although we didn't enter any I would assume they are operating within social distancing guidelines. We did use the cafe to purchase our ice creams and found the procedure to be very effective. You order at one window and collect  and pay at the other. Payments are currently card only. We visited the courtyard around 2.30pm and there were no crowds or queues and the ice creams were well stocked and very reasonably priced at just over £11 for 5 full size ice creams. We ate our ice creams at dedicated picnic tables outside of the courtyard. We didn't see any staff outside of the courtyard cleaning these areas and the table we were at did have food remnants on it. 

The bike hire shop was closed as was the play park. I think keeping the play park closed is probably as good idea as it's quite small and it would be difficult to ensure safe social distancing when the park has so many visitors. I feel opening it would cause people to congregate in that area.

Visiting Thoresby Park During The Coronavirus Pandemic Katrina Over 30s UK blogger talking about parenting, autism, mental health, books and coeliac disease.

There is a distinct lack of hand sanitizer located at Thoresby Park. I would have expected there to be some at the payment machine. Even though you aren't using cash you are using your hands to put in your pin number if required. It shouldn't be assumed that people can use contactless all the time, I have often had to manually put in a pin after a set number of contactless transactions. I would also have expected some near the waste bins as that is a very high contact area. The gates across the bridge are also a point of contact so I would have expected there to be some sanitizer there too. 

My Thoughts

Visiting Thoresby Park During The Coronavirus Pandemic Katrina Over 30s UK blogger talking about parenting, autism, mental health, books and coeliac disease.

Reading this back it sounds like quite a negative review but it's primarily the organisation regarding accessing the toilets and the lack of hand sanitizer that was the problem. I appreciate that it's probably not their responsibility to provide hand sanitizer at gates and parking meters but it would go a long way in ensuring visitors feel safe. If I'd have forgotten to bring my own then I would have found the visit quite stressful.

The park itself is an absolute joy to visit. The scenery is outstanding and there is so much wildlife to spot. The grounds are full of hidden treasures to discover. We found a lovely little cove to enjoy a paddle, grassy areas to run and play and even a waterfall to admire. We had ample space to explore and happily spent several hours here. We would happily return again (with our own hand sanitizer!)

 Thanks For Reading 

Katrina Fox UK based parenting blogger. Writing about Coeliac / celiac disease, Aspergers Syndrome and Autism, Pregnancy, Parenting and both Childrens and Adults Books


  1. I think it’s a well balanced and honest post so thank you for sharing. I agree that hand sanitiser should be readily available. But it sounds a beautiful place and well worth the visit. #kcals

  2. It looks like a really beautiful place to visit. The toilet situation is very difficult. I've seen lots of toilets with a one out one in sign. Problem is, there's no way to know if someone is already inside before you enter. This pandemic has definitely thrown up many problems! #KCACOLS

  3. Thanks for your honest review. The toilet situation would make me quite anxious too. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.

  4. It’s a balanced review I agree they should be providing hand sanitiser. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time @WithFranca @momof2lgs  

  5. What a lovely place for a family day out. It's so difficult isn't, with regards to facilities in general at venues like this. The buildings aren't designed for social distancing and so it's really tricky at the best of times. Great review of what to expect though. I don't think it's negative, but rather helps a visitor to plan for the day. Thank you for joining us for #mischiefandmemories xx

  6. I'm sure you would not have been the only person concerned about the hand gel so it is best to inform the venue so they can adjust their covid measures. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

  7. Love that you gave such an honest viewpoint about the things that worked and the things that didn't. All venues are muddling through like we all are so I am sure that this feedback will be really useful for them. A hotel I stayed at recently actually emailed after the stay to ask for such feedback so that they could improve anything that made guests uncomfortable so I reckon this place will also value your comments. Thanks for joining us on #MischiefAndMemories


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