This summer we visited Pensthorpe Natural Park for the first time, ridiculous as we are local! It is amazing. Really amazing. We had the best day. There is so much to do we can’t wait to visit again to catch the bits we missed and to repeat our fave bits. I can’t sing its praises enough but I shall try to keep this review a reasonable length, promise.
So this must be the best play area we have ever visited. We could have spent a day just playing. There are zip lines, towers to climb, sand play (including L’s fave diggers), adventure courses, tunnels, climbing, crawling, twisty turny slides, a mud kitchen, giant seesaw, even a stream for paddling and splashing.
For the first time in my life I witnessed an outdoor play area being cleaned, they were even cleaning the stream, I mean they take this seriously!!
There are also plenty of benches and picnic tables and nice shady spots for adults to sit and watch and kids to relax.
Indoor play at it’s best. I barely saw L, or my husband for that matter, as they dashed in. I heard an excited cry of ‘this is where fairies live’ from my son at one point but that’s about it.
There’s a lovely seating area upstairs that overlooks the play area so you can watch in comfort with a drink and cake from the little cafe.
You have to book a time slot when you arrive so you know it’s won’t get crazy busy which I like. L didn’t spend as long here as I was expecting but he’d spied everything outside and just wanted to get on bless him.
Nature’s WILD Tribe
A new trail around the site for the summer holidays that gets the family joining in some fun activities and finding out some fun nature facts.
Who is the best at Leapfrog? A Leaves and Ladybirds (Noughts and Crosses) championship. Who is a Den Building Master? Highest score at Hoopla. Best feel for your feet during the barefoot walk?
I love that it gets the whole family involved and ranges from classic games to new experiences.
We found everything on the trail apart from Pooh Sticks, which is sad I’m the master of Pooh Sticks and may have actually won that!
There is a great stamp trail around Pensthorpe Natural Park for the kids to complete. We love trails like this as it keeps L’s attention and means we get to see most things on offer.
This trail was great for two reasons. There were no ink stamps. So no smudging or inky hands, whoop! Also, there were questions and talking points around each animal you found, so you had to read the information to answer the question and find out some facts about each animal so you could answer some questions about them at te end, like who is the fastest?
Again we didn’t manage to find everything, Miles alluded us as did Brooke’s Otter Holt which I really wanted to crawl inside.
Thankfully they were still kind enough to let L have a badge at the end as he had tried so hard. The badges are limited edition and so cute, his Mad About Hares badge has gone straight into his treasure pot.
At £1 for a bag of bird feed this is a must. You can get a bag for the birds on land or for the birds in the water. I would recommend one of each personally.
The bags are generously filled and the birds are very eager to be fed.
L loved it and husb even hand fed some of the geese. I didn’t even need food as one tried to eat my leg, that was tickly!
The water birds were fab as we got to see some of them jetting under the water, so fast, to get to the food and they all swam over to us.
Check out the pond dipping times when you arrive as it is such good fun.
We all had a go and there were staff and handy laminated guides on hand to help us identify our finds. Which I have since forgotten, sorry! Nothing too exciting I don’t think.
L was after a fish, which is possible, as the people near us got a stickleback, but we didn’t manage. It brilliant watching L pond dipping, his little face, the happiness and the interest in it all.
I’ll admit, I got a bit obsessed with the sculpture trail.
Throughout the park there are a collection of lovely sculptures. Some in in plain view, some hidden up trees and many hidden from me entirely.
There are sculptures that form part of the trail and some that are there just because they are pretty.
We found a good two thirds of them, but I’ve kept the trail leaflet so I can find the rest when we go back! It was just another fun element to the day.
As you would expect from somewhere like Pensthorpe Natural Park there are bird hides dotted about throughout the site.
We watched the cows grazing from one. Spotted a woodmouse from another. Saw countless little birds, tits, finches and even a woodhatch. The cranes were fabulous and being able to sit a quietly gaze out over the water and watch the ducks, geese and swans made for a lovely break from the walking.
There are feeders set up by most of the hides so as long as you are relatively quiet you’re pretty much guaranteed to see something.
Eeeek. So cute! I love a red squirrel and we were all excited to see these little cuties.
They have a lovely little area to run around in and we got to see several. They were too speedy for a photo sadly but it was a real highlight for me.
We walked a lot. More than I thought L would tolerate. We clocked up about 6 miles over the day.
It was lovely. As parents to a younger child, L is five, we loved that the walks were broken up by play equipment, stamps, activities and hides.
As adults we would love to go back without him and just walk, walk some more and then walk back.
I liked that there was something for everyone, it’s not just for families, not at all. The gardens are beautiful and I know my mum would love to visit purely for those. The walking is brilliant with all sorts of trails, I loved that. Then there are the birds and all the nature.
Oh my word I love this place so much and cannot wait to visit again. It’s bang on an hours drive from our house and so worth it. Before visiting I thought it was quite expensive for a visit. It’s £11.95 for an adult on the gate, however, this summer we’ve visited a lot of places, most more expensive than this and only a couple have been able to fill a whole day.
Most haven’t even come close to offering what Pensthorpe does. I am prepared to go as far as saying that Pensthorpe has offered THE BEST value for money of all the attractions we’ve been to this summer and is up their with one of my favourites. Definitely top five. Honestly, you just have to go, it’s fabulous.
Disclosure – we were gifted our tickets to Pensthorpe Natural Park for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, opinions and images are my own.