If I ever had to make a list of a perfect family day out with kids, then I am sure Pensthorpe Natural Park (and BeWiILDerwood) would make it to the top 5. We used our Gardener’s World 2-1 card to get one FREE entry, so it was a win-win situation.
We visited Pensthorpe Nature reserve on our staycation in Norfolk. It is about 45-minutes drive from Norwich but is so well worth the visit. You will spend an amazing idyllic day out in the countryside that combines the best of both worlds: the beauty of nature and the excitement of adventure. After all, where else would you find a beautiful nature reserve (natural wetlands, woodlands and well maintained gardens), huge variety of ducks, geese, swans and herons, Wisteria walk, lots of bird hides, sculptures on the trails, a flamingo and cranes enclosure AND an amazing outdoor as well as an indoor play area.
Don’t forget to take a map from the reception (or download it from HERE). The map is well-detailed with different walks, which are easy to follow (even for someone like me who gets lost everywhere). There are also different activities and trails that the children can take part in. In fact, there was pond dipping on the day we visited. You will also find educational displays throughout the walks e.g. boards with the different types of ducks that live in the area, and what to look for when trying to identify them. We all loved spotting the wide variety of ducks. You can buy packs of food (1£/bag) at the entrance. The resident waterfowls were waiting for us as soon as we stepped out. Some even came to take food out of our hands.
You will stumble across stunning sculptures as you wander around our 700 acre reserve and five gorgeous gardens. The reserve is a beautiful blend between statement gardens and some relatively untamed bits. Sometimes you are walking under a canopy of native oak and birch trees, other times in a wildflower meadow, or under the beautiful scent of Wisteria, but you will never find yourself away from stunning water views (and the ducks for that matter).
Pensthorpe Natural Park also has a number of bird hides located throughout the park where you can spy on the resident birds without disturbing them, including in the Crane and Flamingo area. There are many benches dotted around to rest and take the scenes in. Keep your eyes peeled for dragonflies, butterflies and demoiselle damselflies. You will also find bluebells If you’re visiting between April and May.
WildRootz is the ultimate adventure playground. You won’t find a playground like this unless perhaps when you go to the nearby BeWiILDerwood. It is a playground made of dreams and is truly suitable for all ages.
The climbing frame is breath-taking in design. Clamber up the 11-metre-high slide tower. Explore its 15 different levels and whoosh down three extreme shoots. Zoom at high speeds down the zipline, jump on the musical instruments or find your way around the ultimate, pretty lengthy, obstacle course, a giant nest and maze made from 140 huge timber logs. There is something for everyone whether you are aged 2 or aged 12 and not many places can offer that.
There is a long, shallow and narrow stream trickling through the centre, which has many rocks to clamber. Do take change of clothes and wellies with you as Ay loved to splash while some of the ducks looked on. There is also a mud kitchen on the side.
There is a decent sized lovely sandy pit with playing apparatus, playhouses and diggers. You can also Traverse tunnels for an intrepid underground experience
The nature-themed indoor play area at Pensthorpe Natural Park is included in the admission price, but you must book a time slot in advance. Once inside, you have one hour to play before everyone is asked to leave to make room for the next group. The play area was quite busy when we visited, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. There is a seating area upstairs where you can watch your kids play or you can play along with your children.
There is a small cafe inside, but dont expect anything major. There was no hot food available. You can only get hot and cold drinks and some snacks. However, there is a courtyard cafe outside that serves food all day. I would recommend packing a picnic lunch and plenty of snacks to keep you going throughout the day.
Address: A1067 near, Fakenham, United Kingdom
£14.95 for an adult and £13.95 for a Child 3-16. Please see updated prices HERE
Different activities continue throughout the season (please see website for more details)
Parking is included within the ticket price
Toilets on site. Baby changing facilities in the main toilet block, the cafe and play areas.
Refreshments available on site
Picnic are allowed in designated areas
Though there is a mixture of loose gravel, tarmac, grass and boards, Most of the reserve is accessible for wheelchairs, buggies and mobility scooters. Please see full accessibility information HERE
Dogs cannot enter the cafe, reserve, gardens or adventure play areas unless they are assistance dogs.
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