A journey through the planets at Ruislip Lido

When hubby and I first moved in together, we lived in a little flat in Ruislip. Ruislip Lido was one of my favourite places to go for a walk. It’s changed a lot over the years and now that we live further away, we don’t tend to go there very often. The last time I visited though, I noticed that there was a Walk the Planets trail around the lake which I thought Sophie and hubby might find interesting.


Sophie on her bike looking at the 'Earth' information board - "A journey through the planets at Ruislip Lido"


A cold, sunny weekend morning in late January was the perfect opportunity to get out for a walk around the Lido and take a little journey through the Solar System. It was also a good opportunity for Sophie to get Jessica’s bike out and go for a ride.


We don’t get the bike out very often. It tends to only be when we’re on a family day out – the thought of potentially having to carry the bike as well as juggling Thomas in the buggy or carrier puts me off if I’m out with the children on my own!


Sophie riding her bike at Ruislip Lido


Sophie was a little nervous and wobbly at first on the bike as Daddy had raised the stabilisers slightly to try and encourage her to balance. The first few metres were painfully slow as a result. By the time we reached the outdoor gym area, Sophie was starting to lose confidence. We stopped so that Daddy could readjust the stabilisers so they were level with the back wheel. It was also a good opportunity for Sophie (and Daddy) to try out some of the outdoor gym equipment.


Hubby using the outdoor gym equipment


With the bike more balanced, Sophie was much happier and soon started to pick up speed as we headed towards the start of the Walk the Planets trail.


Two swans swimming on the lake at Ruislip Lido


The Walk the Planets trail is a series of information boards dotted around the lake. Each board represents a planet or an object in the Solar System. The distance between each board represents the distance between those objects, at a scale of almost five billion to one. It’s a brilliant way of learning more about each of planets whilst also getting a sense of how vast the solar system is and how far apart the outer planets are. Sophie is a little young to take in much of the information but hubby and I found it very interesting.


Information board about the Walk the Planets trail


We walked anti-clockwise around the lake, so our walk started at the Sun and followed the planets in sequence from Mercury through to Neptune. At the scale used for the trail, we were also making our way around the planets faster than the speed of light!


Sophie on her bike looking at the 'Earth' information board


The first few planets on the trail are very close together. Once you get beyond Mars though, the distances between each board become much bigger.


Sophie on her bike next to Daddy looking at the Jupiter board


Beyond Jupiter, something else had attracted Sophie’s interest: the sandy beach and children’s playground. Naturally we had to stop for a while so she could head out to the giant pirate ship and explore.


Sophie on the beach at Ruislip Lido between a small wooden boat and some palm trees


Sophie having fun on the pirate ship play area


We’d arranged to meet up with a friend who was out for a run around the Lido so this was a good opportunity for us to stop and chat for a while too! Once Sophie had finished playing, we stopped off at the café for some lunch. We ended up having to sit outside as it was very busy inside the café.


Sophie in a rocking rocket


Once we’d had lunch, it was back on the bike and off to find some more planets. Sophie was much more confident on the bike now, leading the way and looking out for the last three planets.


Sophie cycling along the path; Daddy following with Thomas in the buggy


The path through the woods ran alongside the railway track. We stopped to wave to everyone on the train as they passed by.


Sophie on her bike on the path with the train coming around the track towards her


Thomas was quite happy, snug and warm in his buggy, being gently rocked to sleep as we made our way past Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The space between each planet was so much further now than it had been earlier on.


Thomas in his buggy


Beyond Neptune – we were into the unknown. When I was Sophie’s age, there would have still been one more planet to go – Pluto – which of course is now classed as a dwarf planet. If Pluto had been included on the trail, its eccentric orbit would have meant having to keep moving its board further and further away. It was also interesting to learn that if we were trying to travel to the nearest stars using the same scale, then we would have to travel to San Francisco to reach Alpha Centuri. Fascinating, and such a brilliant way of learning more about the Solar System.


Sophie passing the Uranus information board on her bike


Sophie was quite tired out by the time we finally made it back to the car park. It was certainly the longest bike ride she’d ever had – about 2.5km – and she did well. Hopefully we’ll manage a few more days out with the bike as the weather gets warmer.


Visiting Ruislip Lido – what you need to know:


Ruislip Lido
Reservoir Road


Parking is limited. The car park fills up very quickly at peak times. Willow Lawn car park is for Hillingdon residents only; the main car park is for residents and non-residents with an all-day parking charge for non-Hillingdon residents.


Opening times:

Ruislip Lido is open from 9am each day. Closing times change through the year. For more information click here.



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8 thoughts on “A journey through the planets at Ruislip Lido

  1. Ahh this looks amazing, just our sort of place and the girls would be fascinated by the planets trail. I would love to swim in the lake too!

    1. Swimming in the lake isn’t permitted but the beach is fun and the planets trail is so interesting to do x

  2. This trail sounds an ingenious way to learn about the planets and solar system, and someone planned it cleverly to include the pirate ship where the distances between start getting bigger. What a crazy February that you could eat outdoors at the busy cafe! And lovely that Jessica’s bike is getting use. Caroline took a while to let go of her stabilisers and in the end she did it herself, going off to fetch the spanner and working it out. I was flabbergasted! #CountryKids

    1. It’s such a fun way to learn about the solar system. It was a very cold day when we visited and a bit on the chilly side to eat outdoors but we were all very well wrapped up! Well done to Caroline for removing her stabilisers herself. I think we’re a little way off Sophie doing that just yet!

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