Thornes Park, Wakefield Review For Families

Families who love a varied family day out should definitely visit Thornes Park, Wakefield. It offers a wonderful opportunity to have fun, relax, and spend quality time together. 

The park provides a variety of activities and spaces suitable for adventurers of all ages, making it an ideal picnic spot. It has athletic tracks, an indoor leisure centre, bike-friendly paths, a duck pond, a miniature railway, bowling greens, and a skate park etc.

Having visited the park multiple times as Wakefield residents, we can confidently say that it offers a great range of activities. Our kids, Barney and Matilda, always find something they love to do on weekends. 

What’s even better is that all these amenities are available free of charge.

Where is Thornes Park located?

Thornes Park is located in the heart of Wakefield – only a 5-minute drive or a 15-minute walk from the centre of the vibrant city in West Yorkshire, England. It is easily accessible for both locals and visitors via the A61. Whether you travel by car, use public transport or wish to have a pleasant stroll to the park, reaching this tranquil picnic spot is a breeze.

The History of Thornes Park

What originally started as private property – designed by John Carr for a cloth merchant, James Milnes in (1779 – 1782) – was later opened for public recreation after World War 2. 

This 60-acre park is one of the three parks that form the grand Thornes Clarence Park – the other two being Clarence Park and Holmfield Park. It may have lost the mansion, but the park is still home to several important historic sites like the Thornes Park Aviary and The Historic Stables Building. 

There is a mound of earth parched in the centre of the park that was once part of an old motte-and-bailey castle. This spot offers views across the city of Wakefield. Standing on the mound feels like projecting into the present while reflecting on the historic past.

What is there to do?

Oh, where do we start? Thornes park is a treasure trove of family-friendly fun. It offers a multitude of activities for everyone to enjoy. 

We began our adventure by strolling along the paths that meandered through the park’s lush greenery. The kids were ecstatic to see ducks, swans, and geese swimming in the nearby pond.

Let’s dive into some of the park’s most exciting features.

The Play Area

Our first stop within Thornes Park was the playground, a vibrant wonderland designed to ignite the imagination of little ones. The swings, slides, and climbing frames were carefully crafted to ensure safety without compromising the thrill of play.

This park truly understands the importance of keeping children entertained and active. The dedicated kids’ play area is the real star of the show, offering a wide range of exciting play equipment.

This mini adventure land is located right opposite the skateboard park. It aims for an inclusive play area for all the children including the wheelchair-bound and the low-level sensory panels.

With ample seating for parents to relax and observe, the kids’ play area is the perfect spot for your kids to exert and explore.

The Sports Stadium and The Skateboard Park

Thornes Park is not just about green space; it also caters to various recreational activities. As you enter the park from North-West using the Horbury Road, you will find the athletics stadium and the skateboard park to your right. 

This state-of-the-art Thornes Park stadium hosts a variety of sporting events throughout the year. From football matches to athletics competitions, this stadium is well-used by the Wakefield community. 

The Secret Garden

As we continued our exploration, we stumbled upon the park’s hidden gems. The Secret Garden, nestled in a corner of Thornes Park, was a sight to behold. 

The kids really enjoyed a leisurely stroll here. They admired the vibrant blooms while relaxing in the serenity that enveloped them.

It is truly a peaceful sanctuary within the park that invites visitors to relax and unwind.

Bike Friendly Paths

Thornes Park offers a delightful opportunity for children to embark on exciting wheeled adventures. With its flat and well-paved paths, the park becomes a playground for those learning to ride their bikes. 

Matilda, our little adventurer, took full advantage of this bike-friendly environment, pedalling with glee as she gained confidence and honed his cycling skills.

Green Spaces for Explorers and Picnics

Thornes Park boasts vast green spaces for explorers and picnic enthusiasts. The expanse of greenery spread as far as our eyes could see. We enjoyed a cosy picnic on the grass, basking in the warm sunlight while savouring delicious homemade sandwiches. The kids had a blast running around and playing frisbee.

Facilities for Families

Locke Park goes the extra mile to ensure that your visit is comfortable and convenient. Here are some facilities you can take advantage of during your time at the park:

Cafes and Ice cream vans: 

There is a nice little cafe across the entrance road, opposite the aviary. It offers a delectable range of snacks, sandwiches and drinks perfect for refuelling after an adventurous day. 

The food is fresh, and the staff is friendly, clean & tidy. However, the food is slightly on the pricier side. I realised this as I overheard people complain over a £4.50 toastie.

Besides, there is almost always an ice cream van nearby which is a plus for our kids with sweet teeth.

Free car parking:

IParking woes are a thing of the past at Thornes Park. The park offers ample free car parking, making it convenient for families to arrive and depart without any stress. This thoughtful facility ensures that the focus remains on creating lasting memories and enjoying quality time together.


There are clean and well-maintained public toilet facilities scattered throughout the park ensuring easy access to hygienic restroom breaks. 

However, what bothered us was that these toilets are not signposted on the park’s noticeboards which would be a nice addition. Besides, if you have infants with you on the visit, you will have to change them in the prams since there aren’t any changing tables.

Areas of improvement

As much as we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Thornes Park, we believe in providing honest feedback to help enhance the visitor experience.

One aspect that requires attention is the need for clear signposting directing visitors to the public toilets. It would also be beneficial to consider installing foldable baby changing tables in the disabled toilets, similar to those found in many other facilities. 

These small improvements would undoubtedly contribute to the overall convenience and comfort of families visiting the park.

Would you recommend it?

Despite the minor shortcomings, Thornes Park remains a great destination for families seeking a nice day out.

I highly recommend visiting Thornes Park. Its diverse range of attractions, abundance of green space, and commitment to visitor satisfaction make it a cherished gem within Wakefield.

Besides, the park’s convenient facilities including the restrooms, cafe` and free car parking add to the overall hassle-free experience. Living just three miles from Thornes Park means it’s somewhere we can cycle to so it can be a nice weekend activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cafe?:

Yes, there is a cafe opposite the aviary by the name ‘Stork Lodge Cafe’. The cafe provides a cosy atmosphere and friendly service, allowing families to relax and indulge in a well-deserved treat after hours of exertion.

What is your favourite part?:

Okay, that’s a tough one. But if I have to pick one, I would definitely choose the amazing Play Area. It’s a wonderful place for kids to let off some steam and engage in some imaginative play.

Watching Barney and Matilda race down the slides and swing on the swings was brilliant to see. It’s a really well-done park.

Is it suitable for Dog walkers?

It’s a great place for dog walkers. There are plenty of green spaces and paved paths for you to take your dogs along for a pleasant stroll in the morning or evening. Just make sure to scoop the poop to help maintain the park’s cleanliness and beauty.

Which sports does the park offer and are they free?

There are bowling greens, tennis courts, a putting green and pitch and putt. The equipment for these is available from the offices on nominal charges.

Can children cycle in the park?

Absolutely! Thornes Park welcomes children to cycle within its grounds. The pathways throughout the park are paved and well-maintained and offer plenty of space for cycling. 

Pros & Cons


  • Free parking available
  • Playpark is excellent.
  • Plenty of open green space.
  • Sporting activities are available throughout.


  • Facilities could be slightly better.
  • Car park can be a little hectic.
  • PlayPark can get very busy.

Park enjoyment rating

Last Updated on September 17, 2023 by Ryan

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