Ray Mill Island in Maidenhead was such a great discovery at the weekend and one we had no idea was there! The island is a great place to spend an afternoon, enjoy a picnic and let your little ones play and make new friends with the guinea pigs and birds.
We’ve eaten at The Boathouse restaurant several times, which is located on the entrance to Ray Mill Island, but had no idea what lay beyond. The island is located in the middle of the Thames with a lock on one side and the water thundering over the weir on the other. The island is the perfect picnic spot with loads of great riverside spots to lay your blanket or take advantage of one of the many picnic benches.
Meet the animals
Ray Mill Island is home to a fairly large guinea pig enclosure and an aviary of birds, including lovebirds, parakeets, quails and doves. Quite a random addition to the island but our little one enjoyed looking at them (well the guinea pigs, she couldn’t care less about the birds)!
It’s also a great place to feed the ducks.
Whilst there’s not a playground as such on the island there are loads of play areas dotted around. There are several wooden animals that they can climb on, some move and some are static. There’s also a wooden playhouse to climb in and a wobbly bridge. The bridge is much harder to cross than it looks, me and my husband both nearly stacked it whilst trying to cross!
Food and drink
As mentioned there’s loads of great spots to enjoy your own picnic. There’s also a kiosk in the middle of the island that sells amazing ice cream! They also serve things like toasted sandwiches and paninis.
If you fancy treating yourself then I highly recommend eating at The Boathouse at Boutlers Lock. They serve fantastic food and the views are incredible!
Best bits: If like me you enjoy being by the river then you’ll love this. It’s a great place to have a wander round, look at the water rushing through the weir, watch the boats go through the locks and have a picnic or ice cream.
Worst bits: The play areas could be better, a slide and some swings would make it so much better.
Cost: Completely free! Just pay for parking.
Pram friendly: Yes
Bike & scooter friendly: Yes – although the island isn’t huge.
Social distancing: We visited on a Saturday and whilst it was busy with several large family groups having picnics there was still loads of space for us to keep our distance. The only points where we felt a bit close to people were on the crossing over to the island (which is only short) and in the queue for ice creams. I’ve been told it’s really quiet on a weekday.
Location & parking: We parked in Boulters Lock car park which costs £1 for up to 3 hours of £1.50 for up to 10 hours.
Sat nav: For the car park use SL6 8JN