Last Updated on June 24, 2024 by Suzy McCullough

The search for places to cool down and paddle in a stream is always popular in the summer. This post has some lovely beauty spots to enjoy shallow paddling as a family in the East Midlands across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.

All of the places below have been recommended to me by my readers. This post covers lots of streams and even rivers where families can safely enjoy paddling in the water.

Please be vigilant when visiting these places. Keep your eye on your kids at all times as they can drown in even the shallowest of waters. I also advise wearing beach shoes or wellies not only to make gripping easier but to stop those painful ow! moments from the stones and pebbles.

A lot of these places are popular on a hot day and parking can become limited. Visiting early in the day should mean that you can easily find somewhere safe to park. Please remember the locals when parking.

I haven’t visited all of these places, but I have been to a few. These are all genuinely recommended by my readers. There may be a charge to park at some of these places or even an entrance fee.

Dovedale, Derbyshire

There are plenty of places to paddle and there is a charge for parking. There are toilets and a little shop selling drinks, ice creams and sandwiches.

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Hardwick hall has a fab stream we went in it but in wellies. I wouldn’t go in without.

Recommended by Joi Marie.

You will have to pay the entrance fee to Hardwick to access the stream.

Hubbards Hills, Near Louth, Lincolnshire

Hubbards Hills near Louth is good for paddling. It was quite in the morning when we went a couple of weeks ago but got busier towards lunchtime. However, we did see rats swimming in the water near the stepping stones so went upstream. Head into Louth from Wragby roundabout and go right near the big green, then right again. Follow the narrow road to a car park near the cafe for a small charge. Or from Horncastle Road you can free park at the other end.

Recommended by Melissa Buxton-Rockley and many others
hubbards stephhobson
Photo credit Melissa Buxton-Rockley

King’s Park, Retford, Nottinghamshire

Kings Park is in Retford. It’s a free local park with beautiful gardens perfect for picnics, a lovely stream that’s shallow enough to paddle in and goes as deep as a child’s waist. It has a large park with free water play area. A small shop selling water toys, ice creams and cold drinks.

Recommended by Hayley Kerry
kingspark retford hayley
Photo credit Hayley Kerry

Newstead Abbey Nottinghamshire

There is a stream that runs from the lake and then there is also a water garden at the bottom with stepping stones. I haven’t been personally since lockdown but people have said it’s not too busy. Even pre-lockdown I’ve never felt overcrowded there. Last year there was an issue with water quality but according to friends, that’s ok now.

Recommended by Kate Bateson

Padley Gorge, Derbyshire

You can park at the train station which has a cafe and a walk beside the Gorge to where it opens up. There is an ice cream van that parks there, it can get busy in parts but there is plenty of places to paddle

Recommended by Joanna Meads and Chrlotte Frnch
Photo credit Chrlotte Frnch

Snipe Dales, Lincolnshire

There are a couple of little streams at snipedales which you can have a paddle in.

Recommended by Claire Joanna Humphreys
snipe dales

Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire

Thoresby Park. Highly recommended, small charge for parking all day. Toilets open and cafe doing takeaway. Really quiet when we went, no crowds and social distancing measures in place and being adhered to. There is a shallow river, woodland walks, a playpark (not currently open) and a couple of retail outlets.

If you walk away from the hotel, follow the path towards Perlethorpe. There is a bridge going over the river, next to that there are steps down to the river.

Recommended by Kelly Severn
kellysevern thoresby
Photo credit Kelly Severn


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