Lightwater Valley

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Lightwater Valley
Location North Stainley, North Yorkshire, England
Coordinates 54°10′34″N 1°34′14″W / 54.175975°N 1.570444°W / 54.175975; -1.570444Coordinates: 54°10′34″N 1°34′14″W / 54.175975°N 1.570444°W / 54.175975; -1.570444
Opened Summer 1969
Operating season March to November (open longer for as of 2012)
Area 175 acres (708,000 m²)
Total 32
Roller coasters 5
Water rides 2

Lightwater Valley is a theme park in North Stainley, North Yorkshire, England.[1] The park is perhaps best known for being the home of Europe’s longest rollercoaster - The Ultimate.[2]

Lightwater Valley was founded by Robert Staveley and initially evolved from a small farm attraction. The park features around 40 other rides and also features an adjacent shopping village and restaurant.

The complex is operated by Lightwater Valley Attractions Limited. The park attracts approximately 500,000 visitors per year.[3]

Park information[edit]


The boating lake at Lightwater Valley theme park

In 1969 Lightwater Valley started life as a small self-pick fruit farm attraction which was quite popular with the local community. The farm was owned by the Staveley family, who had been in ownership of the land way back until 1516 when Cardinal Wolsey handed the grounds over to John Staveley. The farm was dealt a crippling blow in 1976 as a severe drought was brought to the region, having a huge effect on the strawberry crop which was the main source of the farm's revenue. Later that year a lake was excavated to help reduce the effects of a future drought.

Lightwater Valley Theme Park was born in 1987 after Rat Ride was built. This was an enclosed roller coaster themed on the dwellings of the sewer rat. It gave the illusion of an underground experience, and was converted to Raptor Attack with a confused Mining Dinosaur theme. The underground illusion is spoilt today by light leakage in large parts of the ride.

In 1990 construction began on the world's longest rollercoaster, costing £5.2 million and over 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length, The Ultimate was opened to the public in 1991. Additional rides and attractions were added throughout the decade.

Moving on from family ownership[edit]

Robert Staveley handed the park over to his children, Amanda and James in the mid 1990s, but there was a change of ownership from a private family firm to Queensborough Holdings, who bought the park for £5.2 million in 1997.

Queensborough Holdings were also in ownership of Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park at the time, which resulted in both parks sharing the same mascot Woody the Bear. The parks were somewhat 'sisters' and operated under Leisure Great Britain of which Queensborough Holdings financed. However, the new owners put the park back up for sale within 11 months of buying it as they decided to re-focus their business in the current market. However, no bid was accepted during the following few years. The park was given a new lease of life in February 2001 when Queensborough Holdings handed management of the site over to Heritage GB, a company which was formed by Queensborough Holdings Chairman Kevin Leech and his son Allan.


Lightwater Valley has over 40 rides and attractions, ranging from thrill rides such as The Ultimate, Falls of Terror for the more modest thrill-seekers and small rides such as Dragon Boats for the park's young visitors. Lightwater Valley categorise their attractions into three groups - Ultimate Adventures (suitable from 9-adults), Mega Adventures (suitable from 5–9 years) and Mini Adventures (suitable for 2–5 years). This helps establish what rides are suitable for visitors and the expected height restriction for each. The theme park has a total of five rollercoasters, two water rides and various flat rides.

2015 Season[edit]

The park opens on Saturday 28 March for the 2015 season and has an exciting season full of events planned including an Adrenalin Weekend consisting of a Bungee Jump & Rally Car Racing (Sunday 24 May) and a Zip Wire and Racing Car Racing (Monday 25 May), Lightwater Valley Country Festival (Friday 26 - Sunday 28 June), Scous & Guides Jamboree (Saturday 4 July) Pirates and Princesses Weekend (Saturday 19 & Sunday 20 September), October Half Term Fantastic Fireworks (24 & 25 October) and the return of Frightwater (30 October – 1 November). May 2015 will also see the introduction of the new Vintage Car Rally ride and also Jurassic Adventure Golf, which will operate as a separate paid for attraction. <>

2014 Season[edit]

The park opens on Saturday 5 April for the 2014 season and has a variety of events planned including Superhereos Saturday (Saturday 28 June), Pirates and Princesses Weekends (7 & 8 June and 21 & 22 June), October half term Fantastic Fireworks (25 & 26 October) and the return of Frightwater (31 October – 2 November).

2013 Season[edit]

In May 2013 Lightwater Valley opened the UK’s largest Angry Birds Activity Park, bringing the world’s number 1 mobile game to life in a fun and active experience for the whole family. Incorporating all the Angry Birds characters, the Activity Park offers over 30,000 square feet of interactive indoor and outdoor adventure play. Eagle's Creek Farm was also introduced in 2013, a tractor ride around a farm with live animals aimed at visitors under 8 years of age.

2012 Season[edit]

On 23 December 2011 it was announced that 2012 would see one new ride added to the park in the form of 'Wave Rider', a junior pirate ship which will replace the outgoing 'Magic Wheel'.[citation needed] 2012 will also see Lightwater Valley commit to a major rebrand which encompasses a new logo, slogan, TV advert and park map.[citation needed] For 2012, the park's annual Halloween event, Frightwater Valley, will be extended to five days, with a separate event for the firework display, Nightwater Valley, the following weekend.[citation needed]

Ride Key[edit]

Colour Target Audience
"Ultimate Adventures"
"Mega Adventures"
"Mini Adventures"

Roller Coasters[edit]

# Name Type Opened Manufacturer Brief Description
Raptor Attack steel sit down
Schwarzkopf Indoor themed rollercoaster, operated as the Rat Ride from 1987 - 2009, refurbished for the 2010 season; height limit 1,2m. Wildcat model.
Little Dipper steel sit down
D.P.V. Rides A small gentle children´s rollercoaster that traverses a variation of a figure of eight track; height limit 1m.
Ladybird steel sit down
Zierer A family coaster that reaches a speed of 20 mph (32 km) on a 653 ft long track (199m) and a height of 20 ft (6m); height limit 1m. Tivoli small model.
Twister steel sit down
Reverchon A spinning wild mouse rollercoaster that reaches a speed of 29 mph (47 km) on a 1378 ft long track (420m) and a height of 43 ft (13m); height limit 1,2m.
The Ultimate wooden sit down
Big Country Motioneering A wooden coaster that holds the record as Europe's longest roller coaster at 7442 ft (2268m); it reaches speed of 50 mph (81 km) and a height of 107 ft (33m); height limit 1,3m. Designed by Robert Stavely

Ultimate Adventures[edit]

# Name Opened Manufacturer Brief Description
Eagle's Claw
KMG An Afterburner (ride) giant swing ride; height limit 1,3m.[4]
Mondail A Top Scan ride. One of only 3 in the uk; height limit 1,4m
Black Pearl
Weber A inverting ship in the new Skeleton Cove (arrived for the 2011 season from Loudoun Castle); height limit 1,3m.
Black Widow's Web
HUSS An Enterprise (ride) swing ride; height limit 1,3m.[5]
Technical Park A jazz-themed Chair-O-plane type ride; height limit 1,2m
Trauma Tower

the ultermat

Zamperla Small family orientated space shot tower ride; height limit 1,1m
Powder Kegs
Huss Based on Gunpowder Barrels which spins around; height limit 1,3m. Part of the new Skeleton Cove.

Mega Adventures[edit]

# Name Opened Brief Description
Bumper cars; height limit 1,1m.
Merry go round; height limit 1m.
Falls of Terror
3 different water dinghy slide; height limit 1m. A mirror image of Wildwater Coaster at Landmark in Scotland.
Wild River Rapids
Spinning river rafting slide that is 265 ft long and ends in a 32 ft drop; height limit 1m. Reverchon.
Flying Camels
Air spinners (relocated from Pleasureland Southport); height limit 1m.
Skate Karts Race your own skate kart; height limit 1m
Buffalo Express
Mini train ride.
Lightwater Wheel
An 82 ft tall traditional Ferris wheel providing views of the park and surrounding countryside; height limit 1m. Technical Park.
The Flying Cutlass
A HUSS Swinging Pirate ship (replacement for The Wave); height limit 1,1m. Part of Skeleton Cove.
Pirate Swinger
Spinner ride; height limit 0.9m-1.4m. Part of Skeleton Cove.
Skull Rock
Roundabout ride; height limit none. Part of Skeleton Cove.

Mini Adventures[edit]

# Name Opened Brief Description
Swan Boats
Pedal Boats; age limit none / 16 year to supervise.
Lightwater Express
A 15 in (381 mm) gauge narrow gauge railway, which operates around the perimeter of the park. Two steam-outline diesel locomotives are employed.[6]
Eagle Creek Farm (Opens May 2013)
Tractor ride and petting farm which will include pygmy goats, Shetland ponies, Kunekune pigs, a donkey, chickens and sheep.
Spinning Teacups Spinning tea cups.
Mini Ferris Wheel Mini Ferris Wheel.
Angry Birds Activity Park (Opens Late Spring)
The Angry Birds Activity Park will combine the digital world of the game with the physical world, through activity-based play, which will encourage visitors to move around and be active.
Wave Rider
Swinging Ship (replaced the Magic Wheel; it was supposed to open in 2011 as part of Skeleton Cove but now located in the forest area).
Noah's Ark
Roundabout ride (relocated from Pleasureland Southport); height limit 1m.
Dragon Boats
Boat roundabout ride (relocated from Pleasureland Southport).
Lady Bug Lady Bug roundabout ride.
Magic Marc's Magic Shows
Magic show.
Young Fun Selection of kiddie rides: Space Pirates, Clownaround, Human Cannonball, Mirror Maze.
Eagles Creek Farm
Tractor Ride through a live farm, while listening to a bespoke soundtrack.
Lightwater Valley Falconry
Falconry centre which runs two live shows each day the park is open

The Ultimate[edit]

The Ultimate, the main attraction at Lightwater Valley.

The Ultimate was designed by Big County Motioneering and the park’s original owner Robert Staveley. Construction began in early 1990, taking 18 months to complete. The ride was constructed by in-house workers and British Rail who used track supplied from Tubular Engineering, after BCM were sacked due to track problems. The project was over a year behind schedule due to track alterations and trouble with train wheels.

The ride finally opened on 17 July 1991 by Frank Bruno. When opened, it was the world's longest rollercoaster at 1.5 miles (2.4 km), taking over 5 minutes to ride and costing £5.2 million. The Ultimate has four trains in all named after park staff. They are called, Mick's Meteor, Jim's Jet, Tony's Tornado and Ron's Rocket. However, only the latter two are still in service today.

The trains also used to have over-the-shoulder-restraints until 1992 when they were removed and replaced with lap bar restraints.

The Valligators[edit]

"The Valligators" are three green alligator-costumed entertainers who currently act as the park’s mascots and entertain the younger visitors. They are better known as Sally, Harry and Baby Al. They were introduced to the park in 2001 to mark the beginning of a new era following Heritage GB takeover of Lightwater Valley.


20-year-old Gemma Savage died on 21 June 2001 following an accident the previous day when two carriages collided on the "Treetop Twister", a spinning Wild Mouse roller coaster, which had opened in May that year.[7] Police decided not to prosecute a maintenance worker, who claimed that he had only received an hour's training on that ride and had not seen its manual.[8] Faulty wiring had also caused a malfunction on the ride.[9] In October 2004 Deputy Coroner John Sleightholme at Skipton Magistrates' Court ruled death by misadventure.

Lightwater Valley's owners and electrician Eric Butters admitted breaching health and safety laws at Leeds Crown Court on 14 November 2006. Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd was charged with failing to ensure the health and safety of riders, Butters was charged with failing to ensure safety through his work. Both pleaded guilty.[10] A French manufacturer, Reverchon Industries SA, was convicted of two charges of failing to ensure the ride's safe design and construction.[11]

Past attractions[edit]

# Name Opened Closed Replaced by Brief Description
1 Soopa Loopa
Falls Of Terror A looping roller coaster manufactured by Soquet.[12]
2 Viper/Zyklen
Eagle's Claw A City Jet / Jet 400 type ride manufactured by Schwarzkopf.[13]
3 Batflyer
A steel suspended roller coaster.[14]
4 Toad Hole
Lightwater Wheel An semi-enclosed water chute. Manufactured by Lightwater Valley.
5 Rat Ride
Raptor Attack A Schwarzkopf Wildcat Type roller coaster.[15]
6 Grizzly Bear
Wild River Rapids A Pinfari Zyklon-type Roller Coaster.
7 The Wave
The Flying Cutlass A swinging ship which closed because of a new pirate ship (The Flying Cutlass) opening in Skeleton Cove.
8 Grand Prix Go Karts
Skeleton Cove Traditional go-kart track.
9 Beaver Rapids
Grizzly Bear A Log Flume ride
10 Hornets Nest
Whirlwind A Chaos Thrill Ride



  1. ^ "Lightwater Valley theme park information". Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Longest Roller Coasters in the World". Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Lightwater Valley's Angry Birds activity park sparks tourism hope". BBC News. 21 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Eagles Claw - Coaster Force". Retrieved 20 August 2010. 
  5. ^ "Black Widows Web". Coasterforce. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  6. ^ Official webpage shown here.
  7. ^ "Student dies after fairground crash". BBC News. 21 June 2001. Retrieved 30 November 2006. 
  8. ^ "Worker cleared over ride death". BBC News. 31 August 2001. Retrieved 30 November 2006. 
  9. ^ "'Worker error' before ride death". BBC News. 5 October 2004. Retrieved 30 November 2006. 
  10. ^ "Theme park guilty over ride death". BBC News. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2006. 
  11. ^ "Firm guilty over park ride death". BBC News. 30 November 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2006. 
  12. ^ "Soopa Loopa (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "Viper (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "Batflyer (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "Raptor Attack (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010. 

External links[edit]