When I was a child, walking about looking at plants and bugs was not my idea of fun – and if my mum and dad had suggested visiting a nature reserve I would have probably rolled my eyes and said: “Awww, do we have to?”
Fast forward 30 years and I can’t think of anything better and, luckily, at her current age Freya is quite happy just being outside (most of the time) so it felt like a visit to Pensthorpe Natural Park, while more for me than her, would be a winner.
What I didn’t realise was that amid more than 200 acres – with four spectacular gardens and numerous nature trails in a park that is nationally recognised as a breeding site for many species – there is also an epic indoor play area along with a fabulous outside adventure space too.
I think Freya would have had fun anyway but Wild Rootz and Hootz House made a good day into a wonderful, memorable day out for her – and that was before we even got to look at any wildlife.
The first I knew of Pensthorpe was when it became the location for the popular BBC series Springwatch from 2008 until 2010. What I hadn’t realised was just how close it was to Norwich (roughly a 40 minute drive, near Fakenham). For some reason I assumed it was much further, which is why I’d never ventured there before.
Once just rolling farmland, according to the Wiki entry, it was: “created as a nature reserve by Bill Makins in the 1980s, before being bought by Bill and Deb Jordan in 2003, of Jordans Cereals”.
After an hour or so playing, we had a quick picnic lunch before popping Freya in her buggy and heading out into the wilds (well, the pushchair friendly version).
I can’t describe just how lovely it was so here are some photos which almost do the job.
After a lovely circular walk in the sunshine, with plenty to keep us all entertained (Freya didn’t stay in her buggy for long), we decided to visit the gift shop and then head to the cafe for cake, including a gluten and dairy free brookie (a cross between a brownie and a cookie) for Freya. She was thrilled about this as usually she has to eat the (mostly squished) cake I pre-pack for her.
Overall it was a lovely family day out and we will definitely be going back.
Price (August 2016):
Children (3- 16): £9.95 (includes entry to Wild Rootz and Hoot House).
Seniors (60+): £9.95.
Top tip: Book your tickets online before you go and save money.