Let us continue this sentimental journey back to Wicksteed Park (Oh Goody! – The Readership), down past the station for the miniature railway to the boating lake.
The lake was created by Charles Wicksteed rather high-handedly (by today’s standards) diverting the Ise Brook. It is said that, when the lake was first opened to the public, Wicksteed walked across it, his hat left bobbing in his wake (walking on the bed, not the surface, I should add).
It covers a vast expanse of 30 acres. Proper rowing boats (as well as Flintoff-style pedaloes) are available for hire, and the best time to come is on a weekday in Summer (outside the school holidays), when it is possible to have the lake to yourself and do some proper rowing. A full circuit of the lake – taken at a decent lick, and with a detour to investigate the mysterious island in the middle, with its nesting swans – takes about 45 minutes (the cost of the cheapest period of hire).
The second best time to go, though, is in the dead of Winter. If you’re very lucky, the lake will be frozen, and you will be able to watch the swans and ducks skidding over its surface. If you are very daring – and not afraid of sinking up to your nose in ice – you could try walking on it yourself.
If you are slightly less lucky, you will find that the lake is in the process of being drained – apparently so that it can be deepened to prevent the accumulation of weed that often clogs it – and that it is drizzling. If so, however, you might be able to shelter from the rain in some carriages from the recently decommissioned miniature train Cheyenne that have – unaccountably – been left standing by the lakeside, while the willows weep around you.
What more could you ask for?