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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The path through the woods ran alongside the railway track. We stopped to wave to everyone on the train as they passed by.
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.
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 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:
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.
Ruislip Lido is open from 9am each day. Closing times change through the year. For more information click here.