Southampton Swing Watch – Cobden Meadows, Bitterne Park Triangle

Welcome to another Southampton Swing Watch – a waffly series of posts that will one day perhaps constitute a directory of my local playareas.

Where: Cobden Meadows Playarea, Riverside Park, Nursery Road. SO18 1PQ

Riverside Park is a large park that stretches for quite a length of the River Itchen. It has not one, not two but THREE playareas (I’ll try and get to all three at some point!) as well as a pitch & putt, a model railway, tennis courts, a pretend road, skate park and probably lots of other delights that I am yet to explore.

Website: No specific website for the playarea but links to the park generally include
Southampton City Council Riverside Park info
Friends of Riverside Park
Southampton Society of Model Engineers (for the railway)

Parking: For Cobden Meadows there is a good-sized car park on Nursery Road which is an easily missed lane just next to Bitterne Park Social Club, off Manor Farm Road.

Refreshments: Cobden Meadows is near to the glorious hub of Bitterne Park Triangle – a small collection of shops and cafés (including a microbrewery) with Southampton’s famous ‘willy-winky’ (wonky) clock. There’s also a pretty good bakery – I can vouch for the quality of the scones – the perfect refreshments for a joint 1st and 30th birthday party.

Toilet facilities: as above

Age groups catered for: The playarea seems targeted to older children. That’s not to say there isn’t good entertainment value for the littleys but no traditional equipment for very small people.

Play Facilities:
There’s a distinctly nautical theme to the equipment – think less bobbing  sailboats and more swashbuckling pirates.

Wide shot of playground, small boy running towards equipment!

– Three lookouts over the River Itchen provide great fodder for the imagination.
– A wide slide leads down to the level play area with some extraordinary rope climbing frames – one of which actually spins round, it’s all terribly exciting.
– The swing section has NO toddler swings, but one normal swing, one net swing and a hanging rope/cage affair that brings to mind some unsavoury medieval punishment.
– In the corner there are a couple of other net things – one bounces and one spins
– Finally, and perhaps most unusually, there seems to be the inside drum of a washing machine for some sort of workout/play activity.


Our ‘offical’ Swing Watch visit
We arrived in a downpour. It was wet, really wet, in fact it was ‘I think we should drive back home Mummy’ sort of wet. But, hey ho, only a shower and I had packed a towel to dry the equipment, and actually my son really needs to become a bit less crickety about rain and bit more weatherproof.

Rainy windscreen


Once the worst of the shower had passed we set out and wandered past the train track which looked like it could be a really nice little activity for a Sunday afternoon in the future:

Lots of trees and a mini railway line running through them


And we were in…

Sign saying Cobden meadows playground


First stop the ship’s lookout for views of walkers, boats, black swans and something industrial in the distance:

Small boy peering out over the railings that look out over the river


The slide was bypassed (too wet apparently)…

Empty slide


And we instead slid on foot down the grassy/rubber slopes to investigate the first of the rope climbing frames:

Small boy standing underneath huge rope and wooden climbing frame


Once we had decided it was a bit too big to tackle it was time to check out the round nets in the corner. One bounces and one spins, quite marvellous, in my opinion:

Two net things. One bounces with springs at the bottom, ones spins


Suspicion gave way to fun in the roundabout one but disappointingly no amount of coercion got my son into the bouncy one. Spoilsport.

Small boy looking into spinning net thing


In fairness he had spotted the swings. My son is a serious swing user –he can swing for HOURS. Even longer with a view, and there’s certainly a view from these swings…looking over the Cobden Bridge provides high entertainment value for a lorry, bus, motorbike loving little person.Boy on swings looking over river and road bridge


The lack of a toddler swing meant he really mastered grown-up swinging facing the bridge and, oh yes, facing the other way too.

Boy still on swing facing the other way


Part way through the interminable swing session I got tired and crashed out in the net swing which was one of the most comfortable I have ever tried.

After much coaxing we headed away from the swings and had a brief play pretending we were a ship’s Captain on this rather fabulous spinning climbing frame…



…before a stop at the pièce de résistance – the washing machine roundy thing. I am quite sure I have missed the point with this piece of equipment. If anyone wants to enlighten me of its purpose please do!

Boy spinning the spinny thing. Big ring on its side that spins


Overall I think this is a sweet little park – unfortunately it’s a bit cronky in places with a plethora of duct tape and a great deal of rubbish which is always sad…unless you’re my son in which case rubbish is an endless source of fascination and conversation.

You may think that rubbish and duct tape, combined with the lack of toddler-aimed play equipment, would result in Cobden Meadows being a fairly unpromising playarea for a very small person BUT the setting and the opportunities for imaginative play mean that we have enjoyed a number of lovely visits here.

But forget what I think – I’m handing over to the official Swing Watch adjudicator and his verdict was delivered on departure ‘I love this playground Mummy’.

The Pramshed


15 thoughts on “Southampton Swing Watch – Cobden Meadows, Bitterne Park Triangle

  1. Well enough said!! If the little man loves it, it must be perfect! It doesn’t look tatty and littered in the pictures-you’ve taken some very flattering shots! And if the rest of the setting is pretty, that’s always a massive lift. I perpetually mean to take towels with me to wipe down wet equipment… And always forget!! So far I’ve used nappies, my own socks, and a scarf to dry off the wet things my littles are desperate to play on…! The roundy thing?? There always has to be some arty pointless object in a park, I’ve found!! My youngest used to be a swing addict! Nowadays he’s not so much in the league of your little one, but once, he was on one in my parents garden, and I went to have a nap, and when I got back, they were still pushing him in it, and he’d also napped too! Apparently they didn’t have the heart to get him out!!


    1. Oh wow, that is serious serious swing using! And how sweet of your parents…they must have been going insane with pushing fatigue! I didn’t photograph the litter but it was quite prolific. As I say though my son has a weird fascination with rubbish so it probably added a good ten minutes of enjoyment overall to his visit! Ahh yes the drying implements…very familiar! Tiny bits of tissue found in the bottom of pockets, awkward leg up so that leggings can dry things. Yep all sorts. I was quite impressed with myself that I remembered a towel, hence it gets a mention AND it’s in one of the pictures! Thanks for commenting xx


  2. Love this post! My house backs onto said Riverside area and we’re always bloody down there. The Eccles Cakes from said bakery are phenomenal. The washing machine roundy thing is hit and miss. The only major setback is the nearby water treatment works which turns the air green with the waft of macerating poo. Fab read 😊


    1. Ah yes, that is not one of the park’s delights is it! Is that the same whiff you get on a section on Thomas Lewis Way? We wind our windows up at that point! I need to try the other two playareas, I didn’t realise until this week that there were two other playareas…I feel my exploration of Riverside Park has been sadly lacking. I’m hungry, I need to have breakfast and now I really want to go to the bakery…I love little Bitterne Triangle! Thanks for commenting. X

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The same whiff indeed! The one nearest the school is best for littlies (park, that is, not whiffs). The wooden one near the river over the road is a bit daunting to my wet-behind-the-ears-ness but it’s closest to the ice cream van…choices choices. X

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This one looks like a lot of fun! Seeing the pics of the train track brings back memories. We used to visit it when I was young 🙂


  4. Oh I love this, you give such a good analysis! Is TM too little for the baby swings? I feel like he might be big enough now and I should probably take him. So far we’ve walked round the local park many, many times but he’s not actually played with anything or really taken an interest at all. I have no idea what the washing machine drum is for… Looks like a lovely park and the view is fab. Well done for taking the towel!! #fortheloveofBLOG


    1. I’ve been trying to remember how old E was when we took him on baby swings…I really can’t…I have a feeling he was a bit older but we were a tad lax in a few things like that. Making up for it now though…an I suppose that’s it, he’ll soon take an interest so maybe just enjoy your walks for now!
      I’m quite proud of the towel packing, thanks! Xx


  5. Ooh lovely Lucy, and right be a river too! This park looks excellent and huge too, plenty of activities for TM – your pictures look fab. I love the sound of the Bitterne Triangle so that you can make the most of a day out for TM and for you too. I’m like you and don’t like it when there are no suitable swings for my child, we need the baby bucket swings at the moment and some parks don’t have these, or there’s a queue for them. Before I had a little one I never really understood parks, but now I can see exactly why they are excellent – for our little ones to burn off energy and to get you out of the house. I’m really enjoying reading your series, and thanks so much for joining us at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x


    1. Ah thank you for your lovely comment, sorry for the delay in replying. I don’t understand parks with no suitable swings…swings are the MAIN attraction for little people often. We’ve got one I need to write up that is an absolutely huge playground, probably the best around…but there is only ONE toddler swing. Madness! X

      Liked by 1 person

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