Review of Diggerland Durham – A family day out in Langley Park
A s first impressions go, it was not looking good. Arriving at a rather drab- looking industrial park seemingly in the middle of nowhere, my husband and I immediately regretted letting our four-year-old son persuade us to take him to Diggerland for a day out.
And when we realised the entry fee would leave us little change out of £60 for the three of us, we were even more deflated.
But we resolved to make the best of it, despite freezing February half-term weather, and we are so glad we did.
This little gem of an attraction kept us all entertained for hours and we cannot wait to go back.
Set over quite a small site, Diggerland, as you would expect from the name, is a mini-theme park based around, well, diggers.
What we did not expect was that we would all – the boy included – be playing with real diggers all day.
From excavators and bobcats to dumper trucks and forklifts, we were let loose on real construction vehicles and we loved it.
Following our son Kasper’s lead, we headed first to one of the large yellow JCBs, complete with caterpillar wheels.
Kasper and his dad climbed in the cab and after receiving simple guidance from one of the incredibly friendly members of staff, they were away, digging up the pile of mud in front of them.
Getting there: By car – exit A1(M) at Junction 62. Head West on the A690, into Durham city centre. Go over the River Wear and at the next roundabout turn right onto the A691 and continue to follow the A691 towards Consett. At the roundabout with a BP garage, turn left towards Langley Park and Riverside Industrial Estate where Diggerland is situated. If your SatNav does not recognise the postcode, try “FRONT STREET”, the main road through Langley Park Village. Diggerland is located just off Front Street, Langley Park.
By public transport – the closest railway station is Durham, about five miles from Diggerland. A bus that serves Langley Park can be caught from the station. (Go NorthEast service 13 or 14).
Open: Open mainly school holidays and weekends from 10am to 5pm, from March to November.
Prices: Adults and children 90cm or over pay £19.95 on day of entry or £16.99 if pre-booked online. Children under 90cm admitted free. Over-65s £9.95 on the day or £7.99 if pre-booked.
Call: 0871 22 77007
As he is still quite young, Kasper sat on my husband’s knee on this and most of the other vehicles but depending on their height, children can often have a go on their own.
Slightly nervous about taking control of one of the machines and making a fool of myself, I eventually plucked up the courage to take a bobcat for a spin after watching my boys have so much fun.
Again, the member of staff was fantastic and after a simple demonstration, I was soon driving around the track, laughing all the way.
The controls for these big beasts are surprisingly intuitive and require only gentle handling, meaning you can make quite precise manoeuvres.
These are put to the test on games like “hook-a-duck” using a mini digger and skittles.
There is also the chance to hunt for treasure in mini-ponds and visitors can get quite competitive, assessing others’ techniques before having a go themselves.
Although the majority of things to do are digger-related, there are also mini-go karts, which our boy expertly handled, and mini-tanks, in which he was less successful and had to be rescued after getting stuck in a tyre wall.
We also enjoyed sitting in the scoop of a digger to be gently spun round like a carousel but chickened out of the more high-octane “Spin Dizzy” ride.
I was brave enough to go on the “Sky Shuttle”, where you are raised high in the air by a fork-lift a few times though, despite my husband ruling it out for himself after one go during which he shed a terrified tear at the top.
It may have been pricey but there are discounts and offers available online and we thought it was worth digging deep for such a great day out.
Diggerland has four sites. The nearest to East Yorkshire are in County Durham, where Natalie and family visited, and in Castleford, West Yorkshire. The other two are in Kent and Devon.