One Magazine’s Esther Baker and family dig out the wellies for a day of digger driving fun!

Having two boys aged 8 and 12, it’s perhaps a little shameful that we have never got around to visiting Diggerland before now. But to be honest, as a mum, I couldn’t quite see the attraction of paying to play with mud – who would want to do that I thought? So with some trepidation, I joined my three excited boys, one of whom my husband, and headed off to Diggerland!

I’m not sure what the collective word for diggers is, but when we entered Diggerland, we were overwhelmed by the mass of bright yellow JCB’s that stretched as far as the eye could see. The name is certainly appropriate!

As we made our way into the park we stopped to read the sign at each machine. You soon realise just how expensive these machines are, and realise that you’re actually going to get chance to control them! My husband was intent on getting behind the wheel straight away, but the boys were instantly attracted to the big rides that are visible from the entrance.

First up was the Skyshuttle. The boys were strapped in before being hoisted 50 feet skywards. This was great for a view across the park which meant the boys came down knowing exactly what they wanted to do next!

Second was Spindizzy. The clue is in the name on this one. Strap yourself into a super-sized, actual digger bucket, before being hoisted up and spun around as fast as you dare! If you’ve kept your breakfast down and are still looking for more then the Groundshuttle is next on the list. Here you get strapped into purpose-built seats mounted on the front of a Manitou Telehandler for a bumpy ride as it rocks and rolls over the ridges and troughs on a specially configured course – great fun!

After a comforting hot chocolate to warm us up, my husband was pleased the boys were now ready to drive something themselves! This is what he had really come for, and he was more than ready to impart years of, mostly imagined, digger driving experience.

We assumed that our 8 year old would never be able to operate one of the diggers alone, but to my absolute horror, and his delight, he met the height criteria! All I could do was stare in disbelief, as our two boys drove off in control of a one tonne dumper truck. Despite the regulated low speed, we felt sure a hefty insurance bill was heading our way. However, to our surprise, and the credit of the instructors, they followed the advice well, and we were proud to collect them ‘damage free’ at the end of the course! Phew.

My heart didn’t calm for long though, as they were soon climbing into The Robots – a £150,000 JCB Robot (Skid Steer Loaders) controlled by levers that they could drive around a partly flooded off road track.

Not to feel too left out, we spotted the Giant Diggers, and my husband was relieved that our youngest finally asked for him for help. They both jumped into the cab, working together to pick up bucketfuls of squelchy soil. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger grin on all of their faces – this was every boy’s dream come true!

With confidence gained, the littlest two headed for a great line of smaller machines.There was a choice of various smaller digger activities, including hook-a-duck, a buried treasure game and skittles! My 8-year-old seemed the have an extraordinary skill at the skittles game, knocking them down in record time, beating my 12-year-old in every game! In addition, there were also dodgems, a ‘joyride’ in a police 4WD SUV or a real JCB, a safari ride, a train, arcade games and so much more, not to mention the play areas too!

The boys worked up a mighty appetite so we opted for lunch at the Dig Inn on-site. There was plenty of choice for all the family, with rolls, burgers, chips and wraps, all cooked freshly on the premises. My 12-year-old son considers himself an expert on burgers and this one ranked pretty high on his score sheet, which is praise indeed!

Diggerland really is a great day out with so much to do, so much so that we struggled to fit everything in! With tarmac paths around the park I didn’t even get covered in mud, which is a bonus for the mum’s. My husband’s only regret was having not gone sooner. I think it’s safe to say, we’ll be back again.

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Words & photos: Esther Baker

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