More than one million visitors come to South Willen Lake each year to play, picnic, take part in water sports, jog, climb high rope courses, attend events or simply sit and watch the world go by. It's definitely the busiest park in Milton Keynes, mainly because there's so much to do there. A good way to find out what there is to do is to walk around the lake. The 1.75 mile route is paved and wide with an all weather surface, ideal for wheelchair and buggy users.
Like its neighbour, North Willen Lake, South Willen is rich in birdlife, particularly during winter months when it provides a night-time roost for a range of water species.
Willen Lake Playgrounds
Children can enjoy messing around in two play areas close to the car park off Newlands roundabout in Brickhill Street (V10). For an extra dose of fun, a bouncy castle takes up residence in the summer months right by the playgrounds.
There's a miniature railway for everyone to enjoy during the weekends and school holidays from April until the end of October, from 11am - 5pm. Trains cross three level crossings, go under a main road and pass Aerial Extreme en route. You can find the miniature railway just passed the Watersports Centre.
Adventure Golf at Willen Lake
The 9 hole adventure golf course is a hit with everyone. A typical round takes about 15-20 minutes per family, so it makes a great fun addition to your day out at Willen Lake. The course is open every weekend from 11am, as well as during the summer holidays.
If you've got a head for heights and a desire to challenge yourself, then Aerial Extreme is for you! Aerial Extreme is the newest addition to South Willen Lake; it's a high ropes course that's suitable for all ages. So whether you're 6 or 60, take a leap into the unknown with over 50 exciting obstacles!
Willen Lake Watersports
Whitecap Leisure offers water sports at Willen throughout the year. The Watersports Centre, off Lakeside Roundabout in Brickhill Street (V10), offers sailing, windsurfing, powerboating and paddle sport to those wanting to take to the water. The centre runs training courses for all abilities so don't worry if you've never tried watersports before.
Willen Lake Watersports Centre also hires out canoes, sailing dinghies and windsurfers, and provides secure lock-up facilities for private boats and equipment. You'll also find the Aquasail shop lakeside, which sells snow and surf goods.
Water Ski Cable Tow at South Willen Lake
WakeMK lets you wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard, wake skate and even surf all year round without the limitations of fuel, boats, wind or surf with their water ski cable tow. Everything you do behind the boat can be done on the cable. It doesn't matter if you've never done anything like it before - WakeMK can get you started.
Fishing at Willen Lake
Willen Lake is licensed for fishing and is a popular venue for angling competitions. If you want to enquire about obtaining a licence, you will need to contact Milton Keynes Angling Association, which manages fishing at the lake.
South Willen Lake Jogging
It doesn't matter when you visit Willen, you'll almost certainly see a jogger. If you want to be one of them, a circuit of the lake is 3,100 metres (approx. 1.75 miles) or you can continue around North Willen Lake, giving a circuit of 4,400 metres (approx. 2.75 miles.)
Willen Lake Trim Trail
Whether you're a Willen Lake jogger or walker, or just fancy toning up, you might like the trim trail. The trim train consists of 12 specially designed exercise stations with a suggested route for three different fitness levels, building up from beginner to experienced. If you enjoy the challenge of the Willen trim trail there are similar courses to try at Linford Wood, Lodge Lake and Tattenhoe Valley.
Cycling around Willen Lake
Cycling around Willen Lake is a great way for all the family to enjoy the outdoors and spend some time together, not to mention great for your health. You can hire bikes for the whole family from Lakeside Cycle Hire, near the Watersports Centre.
Ball Sports at Willen Lake
The dark isn't a problem for football, tennis or hockey at Willen Lake as there are two floodlit astroturfed ball courts for anyone to hire seven days a week, all year round. Changing facilities and showers are available.
LA Fitness is attached to the Watersports Centre and overlooks Willen Lake. The fitness club has extensive facilities including a fully equipped gym, sauna, steam room, swimming pool and kids club/crche, and also offers hairdressing and alternative therapy treatments. The fitness centre specialises in personalised programmes and fitness testing.
Relaxing at South Willen Lake
There are plenty of picnic tables and grassy banks around Willen Lake for you, your friends and family to enjoy. If you don't want to bring your own refreshments, you can enjoy a coffee or a snack at the cafe by the adventure playground or buy drinks and ice creams at various locations around the lake.
If you want to get away from the crowds, the promontory, extending out into the lake just beyond the playground, boasts some attractive planting and lovely views across the water.
Willen Lake Mini Bowl
South Willen Lake boasts a mini bowl, which just like The National Bowl (A.K.A. Milton Keynes Bowl) near Furzton, is an enclosed grass arena suitable for large scale events. Although the mini bowl can't quite hold the 65,000 people The National Bowl can, it can hold a sizeable 8,000; perfect for private parties and public events alike.
Events at Willen Lake
There's always something going on at Willen Lake. For a list of events, check out The Parks Trust's events guide. Events at Willen include colourful dragon boat racing, modern pentathlon, charity fun runs and barbecues.
For other Milton Keynes events, take a look at the MKWeb event guide.
Willen Lake Farmers Markets
Enjoy strolling around the farmers market every last Sunday of the month from 9am - 1pm. Head over to the mini railway and you'll see the market with an array of fresh produce including free range pork sausages, bacon, free range eggs, freshly baked bread, pies, cakes, cheeses, oils and vinegars, local honey and fruit and veg.
Hot Air Balloon Trips
Fancy viewing Willen Lake from the sky? Now you can with The Ballooning Business. In association with Whitecap Leisure, The Ballooning Business offers hot air balloon rides from Willen Lake in a variety of different sized balloons. Whether you want to be taken up on your own or in a group, there's a balloon for you. All passengers receive a glass (or two) of champagne after the flight along with their own flight certificate.
Willen Lake Hotels
With so much to see and do around Willen Lake and Milton Keynes, you might want to stay the night. Handily, there's a Premier Inn (Premier Inn Milton Keynes East) right on the lake. Ask for a room with a view to make the most of your stay.
You can find details of all hotels in Milton Keynes in the MKWeb accommodation guide.
If you'd prefer to camp, you can find a useful list of site and contact details on our dedicated camping in Milton Keynes page.
Access to South Willen Lake
Location: between the H5, H6, V10 and V11 and linked to the city centre via leisure routes through Campbell Park and Newlands.
Watersports: off Lakeside Roundabout, Brickhill Street (V10), designated disabled bays close to the lake (follow signs right through car park.)
North Bay: off Newlands Roundabout, Brickhill Street (V10), two designated disabled spaces and good, level access to the park.
Buses: Take a look at the latest Milton Keynes bus timetables to find the right bus for you.
Taxis: You can find all the local taxi companies in our business directory.
Adventure Golf: 01908 691630 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Aerial Extreme: 0845 6521736
Ball Courts: 01908 691630 / email@example.com
Centre for Integrated Living: 01908 231344
Farmers Market: 01908 691630 / firstname.lastname@example.org
LA Fitness: 0843 1701 046 / email@example.com
Lakeside Cycle Hire: 0l908 691616
Milton Keynes Angling Association: 01908 270000 & 01234 713144
Milton Keynes Natural History Society: 01908 372966
Milton Keynes Parks Trust Community Service (for information on wildlife, conservation and for reporting incidents and damage): 01908 201545
Mini Bowl: 01908 691630 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Miniature Railway: 07810131737 / email@example.com
The Ballooning Business: 01908 920404
WakeMK: 01908 670197
Whitecap Leisure: 01908 691630 / firstname.lastname@example.org
For your own safety, swimming is not allowed in the lake, river or weir. We also ask for your co-operation in not disturbing Willen's wildlife; please keep dogs under control, preferably on a lead, use a poop-scoop, and if you can't find a litter bin take your rubbish home.