The Look Out Discovery Centre statement about coronavirus
All indoor facilities closed
All indoor facilities, including the toilets, remain closed as a necessary precaution for public safety. The Look Out is a multi-use facility with confined indoor spaces, and we are looking at additional measures we need to put in place.
Visiting the playground
Those wishing to use The Look Out playground must book and pay for a space in advance.
More details are available on our playground and coffee shop page.
Why we’ve introduced these new charges
The Look Out is an extremely popular playground with families from across the region travelling to the park. The booking system reduces the risk of overcrowding on the site and therefore limits the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The cash-back charge helps to pay for running costs, including the staff and cleaning equipment necessary to make sure visitors are as safe as possible.
Why you need to book
Those wishing to use the playground and picnic benches (the short stay and play option) will need to book a space in advance using our online booking system.
This will guarantee you a 90 minute visit to the play area, a reserved parking space, allocated picnic bench and £5 credit in the coffee shop takeaway for light refreshments during your visit. Car parking fees apply as normal.
Visitors who haven’t pre-booked can still enjoy the rest of the forest and coffee shop takeaway service without the need to pre-book.
Playground access for disabled children
We are exploring ways for families with a disabled child (under 18) to be able to book to stay and play free of charge. Further updates on this will be added when available.
Length of trial
We are committed to keeping you safe and have launched our new online playground booking system on a trial basis. This makes sure that the much-loved play area can open safely and securely with health, hygiene and social distancing measures in place.
We are continuing to monitor uptake of these new services, which will help us determine how long they need to remain in place.
Protecting our customers
The safety of our staff and customers is our top priority. You can see what measures we’re taking on our playground and coffee shop page, under terms and conditions.
We’re issuing our customers with entrance wristbands, which they must wear for the duration of their visit. This will identify those who have pre-booked spaces to use the playground and picnic benches and make sure that only they will be able to use these facilities.
Information about refunds can be found on our playground and coffee shop page, under terms and conditions.
Coffee shop open for takeaway
The coffee shop is open for takeaway purchases. We have a selection of hot and cold drinks, snacks and ice creams available for takeaway.
Car park re-opened with restricted capacity
The Look Out car park has re-opened on a strictly trial basis with restricted capacity.
Additional measures have been put in place to direct the flow of people and cyclists on the site. All visitors are asked to respect the signage and follow all directions given by staff to make sure of the safe movement of people around the site.
When the car park reaches capacity, the entrance will be closed, so it is essential that visitors are prepared to return home or travel onward to an alternative destination if the car park is full on arrival. There is no opportunity for vehicles to queue on site or on the access roads. Traffic wardens will be in attendance to address illegal parking.
The car park remains chargeable as normal. Parking machines will accept contactless card payments only.
The car park opens at:
- 9am Monday to Friday
- 8am Saturday and Sunday
Last admission to the car park is at 5pm and all cars must leave the car park by 6pm, when gates are closed and locked.
Visiting Swinley Forest
Casual visits to the forest are still available for cycling and walking but these are not pre-bookable. This means that there’s a risk that a car parking space won’t be available during busy periods, such as weekends and school holidays.
Swinley Forest is a rare and valuable wildlife habitat, which is very sensitive to disturbance, particularly the wildlife that lives there. The use of barbecues or campfires on site is strictly forbidden to prevent destructive forest fires.
Please take all your litter home with you, particularly if the bins are full, as leaving litter can be unsightly and cause harm to wildlife. Broken glass bottles pose a threat to visitors and their dogs; they trap wildlife and magnify the sun, which can cause forest fires.
Swinley Forest has special protections in law because it is valuable for ground nesting birds which are currently within their breeding season. Therefore, please stick to the paths and keep dogs on a lead to minimise disturbance to wildlife.
Cyclists should always ride within their limits and recognise that the area will be busier than normal with walking activities and family visits. Any accidents will put pressure on the NHS and the emergency services, taking resources away from the COVID-19 response.
We continue to prioritise the ongoing safety of our staff, visitors and the wider community and reflect on the latest government and public health advice.
If you do decide to visit us at this time, we ask all visitors to abide by the latest advice from the NHS.