Pugneys Country Park cycling for families

Pugneys Country Park is a 250-acre park located on the A636 between Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England and Junction 39 of the M1 motorway. It is a Local Nature Reserve. The area was developed from a former opencast mine and a sand and gravel quarry and was opened to the public in 1985.

As residents of Sandal, we live close to Pugneys park, meaning we’ve visited quite frequently over the years. Best of all it’s accessible via bike for those who live in the local area. If you live in Sandal you can take the route down Milnthorpe Lane and past the Farm that the Castle overlooks. From here you can pick up a public footpath route to Pugneys.

If you are not local it’s still a wonderful place to visit. With watersports, a children’s play area, a cafe and a miniature railway there’s plenty to keep you entertained for the whole day.

Best of all it’s cycle friendly and with a 1.6-mile flat gravel loop around the lake, it’s very much possible for children of all ages to enjoy.

Where does the ride take me?

Pugneys has a large pay and display car park which can be accessed off the A636. Given its council run the parking is inexpensive (I believe £1 an hour) and there’s usually plenty of space unless there’s a large event on.

If you are travelling by Car and have your Bikes on the back of the car then the carpark is essentially at the side of the lake. You can cycle either direction around the lake and if you are feeling fit you can take the route up to Sandal Castle and combine both (it’s quite steep).

The path is an approximately 1.6-mile loop around the Park. This is shared between cyclists, dog walkers, joggers and families but there’s plenty of space. There’s grass surrounding the path also so it’s very easy to pass someone on the grass should there be people in front of you.

The route is very pleasant and there are activities for the kids to do as you cycle around. These include a sunken ship beach area on the far side of the park and physical activities dotted around. It’s a nice experience and a very easy route to take.

Pugneys also has a great play park suitable for children of all ages (although I would say most suitable for 3 upwards). You can also take part in Watersports activities, visit the cafe and of course take a ride on the miniature railway.

What level of rider is it suitable for?

Pugneys is very much for beginners. The route is largely flat, the surface is safe for children of all ages. It’s a good place for those who are beginning their journey as independent riders.

Pugneys Country Park Map
Map of Pugneys country park

How much of it is traffic-free?

Once parked Pugneys country park is a completely traffic-free route. There are no cars or any other vehicles allowed on the circuit surrounding the lake and it’s strictly for walkers and cyclists. Other than navigating around other people Pugneys is a very safe route to practice.

Would you recommend it?

Absolutely! If you have young children or are new to cycling then this is a perfect place to visit. It’s safe, there are plenty of activities to keep them occupied (and incentivised) and it’s a fun day out for all.

The cycle paths are also completely traffic-free which as a parent is reassuring as it enables you to enjoy your own ride instead of worrying about the safety of your children.

There’s usually an ice cream van which can be a treat for their cycling, a cafe which although could have slightly more choice is perfectly fine. Furthermore, there are toilet facilities should they be required.

Pugneys is good at engaging the children too with activities surrounding the lake, a brilliant volunteer-run miniature railway and the play park. These all make it a well-rounded day out and good, inexpensive family entertainment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cafe?:

Yes. There’s a cafe inside the main building at Pugneys which serves hot and cold meals, drinks and plenty of snacks. We think the decor could be slightly better however the staff in the cafe are always very friendly.

Are there any hills?:

There are some small inclines near the pirate ship on the far side of the lake however the circuit is largely flat. The route is still suitable for beginner riders.

What is your favourite part?:

I really enjoy the varied activities to do around the Lake. Although this means more stopping and less cycling it’s great fun for the kids and keeps them engaged throughout.

Is it suitable for Dog walkers?

Yes. Pugneys is very much a spot for Dog Walkers. The council however do warn regularly that Dogs shouldn’t enter the water due to the prevalence of Green Algae in the water. This can turn into Blue Algae which is harmful to both humans and dogs.

How much is it to park?

The parking at Pugneys country park is well-priced. It starts at £1 for an hour and is £2.50 for up to 4 hours which represents excellent value for money. Parking is free for disabled badge holders.

Pros & Cons


  • Flat and traffic-free once on the route
  • Suitable for children of all ability levels
  • Play Park & leisure train ride


  • Parking although inexpensive is not free
  • It can get incredibly busy

Cycle enjoyment rating

Last Updated on July 7, 2023 by Ryan

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