Lightwater Valley theme park is near Ripon in North Yorkshire. It’s a theme park I haven’t visited since I was a young teenager myself so I was looking forward to taking the family for a day out there. This is another visit in our summer of microadventures and here’s how it went.
We’d not told the girls where we were going to Lightwater Valley, though they did know we were going somewhere. We finally told them at breakfast on the morning of our trip. This meant they could at least dress appropriately for a theme park. The older girls were super excited as they were aware of what Lightwater Valley is, but the younger two were a little less so. Verity hit the nail on the head when she asked if it was like Flamingoland without the zoo.
Getting to Lightwater Valley is really straightforward for us. We live about an hour away by car on quiet North Yorkshire roads, so very low hassle. The theme park is located a few miles north of Ripon, not far of the A1. As we had planned to take our own food we stopped off at Aldi in Ripon first to stock up on picnic items. From the centre of Ripon, it then took us about 10 minutes to drive up to the park. There’s ample parking space and on the day we visited there were a number of marshals directing people into parking spaces.
We arrived at 10 am, just as the gates were opening. After joining the short queue for the ticket booths I noticed another gate where people with pre-purchased tickets could get through a bit quicker. It was too late for us so we just hadn’t out tickets in at the booth. So, when you visit and have already got your tickets, do queue up for the ticket booths.
Getting our bearings and having a plan
The good thing about going through the ticket booth was that we were given a park map. Although Lightwater Valley isn’t on the same scale as some biiger theme parks in the UK this proved very useful, although the cartoon nature of it did make it a little tricky to work out at first. We used the toilet facilities just inside the park and Helen bought herself a much-needed cup of sweet tea.
We immediately checked the map to get our bearings and find the big rides such as The Ultimate, The Eagle’s Claw and The Black Pearl. It was early so we hoped to get on some of these more popular rides before the queues got long. However, we soon discovered that access to these rides only opens at 10.30 am. So, to start with we settled for a ride on the carousel instead.
After the carousel, Helen insisted that we get the water rides done early so that we aren’t travelling home wet. Frankly, I didn’t much fancy spending the day drying out on other ride either but there you go. So we headed for the Wild River Rapids.
Wild River Rapids
Helen isn’t much of a thrill ride fan, therefore I knew I would be accompnaying the girls on most rides. I do like roller coasters and many thrill rides so this is hardly a chore for me. You can only get four people per “boat” on the rapids. So I sent Lydia and Grace in ahead in their own boat while Delilah, Verity and myself followed behind in another.
The boat we were in had a good few inches of filthy water in the bottom, meaning our feet got damp before the ride had even started. Delilah was not impressed at this and somehow manage to keep her feet up for the whole ride! The ride itself was fun. I managed to get some shots with the GoPro on the girsl faces as the boat came spinning down the rapids. Oddly, asside from the odd splash, we weren’t wet at all (asside from my boots).
From there it’s was a short walk to The Twister.
Anyone reading this who has visited Blackpool Pleasure Beach may well remember the wild mouse. It was a compact roller coaster that runs at speed and takes corners extremely fast. Well The Twister is somewhat similar to this, with the added twist (sorry) that the cars, that can seat 4 people, also spins around. So you’re in a car that’s spinning around, taking hairping turns at break-neck speed – great fun.
The good think about Lightwater Valley is that they have a good system when it comes to minimum heights on rides. This meant Verity, our smallest, could go on most rides so long as I went with her. This meant she could go on The Twister.
This was the ride we seemed to queue the longest for. Of course, as we slowly edged towards the front of the queue we were watching the ride and listening to the screams from the people riding on it. Verity didn’t seem phased at all and we were soon settling into our car. Again, I went with the younger two with Lydia and Grace in the car behind us.
This ride is so fast and the track is full of seriously tight turns. You don’t think you’re going to make it around and come flying off. My ears were ringing from the girls screams! But, they came off laughing and smiling so we know they loved it really.
I bought our ride photo here for £5 as it was Verity’s first time on a proper roller coaster. The quality ins’t great, as you can see below, but it’s a nice keepsake.
It was time to move deeper into the Lightwater Valley and head towards The Ultimate.
Before making our way to The Ultimate we split for some going for a toilet stop and Grace taking Verity on The Ladybird mini roller coaster. Frankly, after she’d just been on The Twister the Ladybird seemed a little tame but she loved it all the same.
As we arrived at the front of The Ultimate’s station building discussions were taking place as to who was going on it. Grace and Verity opted to miss this one out, something I thought a bit odd. So as Lydia, Delilah and I headed to the large wooden building they joined the queue for the Apollo.
The queue for The Ultimate wasn’t too long at all. With two long trains running it didn’t take long before we were in line to be realese to take our place in the entry pens. Amazingly the two people in front of us chose the very last carriage meaning I ended up at the very front on my own with Lydia and Delilah direcly behind me.
The Ultimate at Lightwater Valley used to me the longest roller coaster in the world at 1.5 miles long. It has since been beaten into second place by the Steel Dragon in Japan that is 1.54 miles long.
The reason people want to get to the back carriages is in fact because this apparently offer the roughest ride experience. Frankly, it was damn rough at the front too! I’d forgotten just how raw this ride is. For a start it’s wooden framed means you get that grate ricky sound and feeling as you click up the inclines. Incidentally there’s two inclines of over 100 feet on this ride, means two awesome drops. It’s the second drops where the ride gets really “interesting”.
At the top of the first incline you get a fantastic view across Lightwater Valley. At the top of the second incline and the ride bends 90 degrees you look back and realise how far out of the park you have travelled.
We came off The Ultimate with our bones shaking and big grins on our faces. We’d also worked up an appetite so we chose a spot on the large grass space in front of the station house.
Food prices in the park are unsuprisingly high. It seems any theme park has these kinds of prices so you expect it. There are meal deal tickets you can purchase but we had opted to bring our own food with us. We forgot drinks though so I did have to pay £9.50 for 5 bottles of water and a Diet Coke.
We enjoyed our Aldi picnic on the grass. There are lots of spaces like this in the park and plenty of picnic tables around if you prefer that. There were some threatening clouds and a couple of drops of rain while we ate lunch. Thankfully the rain held off, we packed up and headed to Skeleton Cove and the swinging ships.
The Black Pearl
I am a roller coaster fan and no so much a fan of swinging pirate ships. Somehow though Delilah, Grace and Lydia got me on the Black Pearl. This is a swinging ship ride. It is a swinging ship ride hat swings a full 360 degrees. This is not a ride for me at all.
As we took our seats near the middle it struck me that going on such a nausia-inducing ride just after eating wasn’t the best idea we’ve ever had. Then I started to think about the people facing me that were sat in the other side of the ship. What if they had also just eaten. What if they’re sick when facing down on me? Uuurrrgh!
The ride gets going pretty quick. The going right over isn’t too bad, although I much prefer it when going forwards that backwards. No, it’s those swings that doin’t quite make it over and seem to have you hanging there – 85 feet in the air. To say I was relieved to make it off that ride, especially still holding on to my still digesting lunch, would be an understatement.
While we’d been swung to within an inch of our lives (I love a good unsertatement), Verity had been on the mini swinging ship. I wish I’d done that one now!
Lightwarer Valley actually has three swinging ship rides. The girls wanted to then go on the other swinging ship – The Flying Cutlass. This is a little tamer as it doesn’t go upside down. This time all four of them went on, with me. It may not be as extreme as the Black Pearlt, but it did comfirm my dislike of swinging ship rides. I’m not sure Verity was overly keen either!
After Skeleton Cove we headed for splash falls.
Splash Falls Water Slides
I sat this one out, still reeling from the trauma of the Black Pearl. Splash Falls are three water shute slides that two people ride down in rubber dinghis. The girls managed to get two slides down but did spend rather a long time queueing so we moved on to the circus.
Fun in the Big Top
We happened to be visiting while they had teh National Festival Circus performing shows throughout the day.
I got the performance time wrong and we were more than half an our early. Not wanting to have to rush back we wandered over to the waltzer and the girls went on that.
It was nice to be sat down, on firm ground, for half an hour of light entertainment, if I am honest! A few of the performers were only children themselves but from a circus family. They were very good.
From the circus we consulted our trustly map and decided that the Ealgle’s Claw was next.
The Eagle’s Claw
After the trauma of the Black Pearl there was little chance of me going on a ride that you around whilst alos swinging you 360 degrees. Nope! The three older girls went on 3 times in a row! Madness I tell you. They loved it. Well, Lydia did seem a little traumatised by the third go if I’m honest.
While they were riding that Verity and I went on the tractor ride around the small farm. We had a lovely time, safely on the ground.
She then went on the Trauma Tower as well – what a giggle it was seeing her face as it dropped them down!
Next on our hit list was Raptor Attack
Back to The Ultimate
The queue for Raptor Attack was a bit too long so we went back to The Ultimate. This time Grace was coming on an Verity wanted to have a go too. We measure her against the height board outside the ride and she was just on the 1.3m limit. As we queued up I anticipated a problem when the attendant measure her with his stick.
When it came to checking her height the attendant was very good to ensure whe stood as naturally tall and she could. She was allowed on. She sat next to me and seemed quite nervous as the train clicked up the first incline.
Verity screemed pretty much the whole way from the first drop! I kept lookat her and she was bouncing all over with a huge grin on her face. She got off that ride and couldn’t wait to tell her Mummy about it.
I bought the ride photo this time for Grace, Delilah and Lydia as it was a great. Becuase we had already bought a photo from The Twister this one only cost £3.50. This photos is a bit better than the ine one from the Twister – at least it’s not blurry. Delilah’s face cracks me up!
This is a ride in the dark. The setup is an old mine where raptors were found and it’s quite scary for younger children. It involved a walk through some very low-ceiling tunnels to get to the ride. I went with Verity this time, Delilah went with her older sisters.
Rides like this in the dark are strange and play with your senses. There were flashes of light illuminating raptors in various places and I could hear Lydia screaming in the car in front of us. To be honest I found this to be quite a week ride as being in the dark takes away much of the visual danger.
Bird of Prey
For something a little different we headed over to the bird of prey centre. They have many species of won and even a golden eagle! Insire there are some marmosette monkey and Prairie Marmots too. We found ourselves fascinate watching the marmots and the swallows swooping in and out to a nest then had above the enclosure.
My favorite bird there wasn’t actually a bird of prey at all – it was the kookaburra. I’ve never actual seeing one for real.
Lightwater Valley to the very end
The rides stopped at 5.30 pm and we had half an hour before then the squeeze in two more goes on The Ultimate. The first two times we were in the blue train, but the last two we were in the red. I’m not sure why, but the red train seemed much rougher than the blue. Verity, again loved it.
We had an absolutely fantastic day at Lightater Valley and is deffinaltely somewhere we will come back to again. We headed out of the gates and back to car feeling alittle weary but with smiles on our faces.
Lightwater Valley is open from March to November but do check their website for the days and times as they vary.
There are a range of ticket prices for Lightwater Valley. The good thing is that it is banded in height so each visitor get’s the best value for money. Under 3s go free, under 1m is £10, under 1.3m is £16 and over 1.3m is £24. There’s discounts for advanced booking and other rate too so please check their website for more details.
** Our visit to Lightwater Valley was a gifted experience. This has no influence on our honest review of this venue whatsoever.