This is a gifted partnership
Do you ever drive past an attraction and think ‘oh we must visit there’ and then never quite get around to visiting. Well, this is exactly me when it comes to Pensthorpe Natural Park. Despite driving past it numerous times and hearing friends recall their amazing day trips there, I’d never quite gotten around to booking a date on the family calendar.
With our summer bucket list written and the hopes of exploring all that Norfolk offers us on our doorstep. Pensthorpe finally became a reality last weekend. We were due to visit the weekend before but the weather wasn’t amazing and not knowing what was on offer we thought it best to delay our first visit, With Granny visiting for the week we opted to take her along with us as What The Dad Said was on standby for work.
Pensthorpe Natural Park
The former home of BBC Springwatch, the 700-acre reserve is abundant with wildlife and thriving year-round natural woodland and wetland interest. Woodland walks, trails, bird hides, gardens and boardwalks present an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and charm of Norfolk’s Wensum Valley.
What to do at Pensthorpe Natural Park for families
Nature’s WILD Tribe trail
Inspired by the heady, rose-tinted memories made outside with friends and family in summertime, the trail promises a return to the old-fashioned values of traditional outdoor play.
An additional activity for the children over the summertime (running from 25th July to 3rd September), with the chance for them to gets hand-on with the world around them. Throw pooh sticks (not sure you’re ever too old to play this one), play leapfrog over tree stumps, battle it out at ‘giant’ noughts and crosses, build a den, see what is hiding in the maze, try your luck at giant pick-up sticks, play bird songs on wooden chimes and spot bugs.
Hootz & Friends Discovery Trail
Join Hootz and his friends on a journey of discovery… as you explore our park, find out where they live and learn a bit more about them.
A wonderful interactive activity sheet for the children to complete as we made our way around the park. With eight different characters to find and learn about along the way. Plus the children needed to stamp their sheets to gain an impression of the animal in order to collect a special prize from reception on the way out.
Guided Pond Dipping
Around the park, Pensthorpe has really thought about how they can engage children within the natural park. With an array of different activity stations tucked away around the walkways, including den building and pick up sticks etc. As we made our way to the picnic area for lunch, we managed to catch one of the guided pond dipping sessions.
Set up with the help from a Pensthorpe member of staff with nets and trays, the children were able to kneel by the waters edge on the jetty. Moving their net in a figure of eight they were hoping to find what minibeasts lived within the pond. Sadly, there weren’t very successful however there was already a tray set up with some creatures in the water so that the children could take a closer look. They loved this activity, so much so that we’ve already purchased nets to go and see what we can find in the rockpools etc on our beach adventures.
When we arrived at Pensthorpe and the children had been given their Nature’s WILD Tribe Log Book and Hootz & Friends Discovery Trail. We were told about the sculpture trail around the natural park. Something that both Granny and I were interested to see as we walked around with the children. Spotting several amazing sculptures, I took photos of them but honestly, I don’t think that photos do them the justice that they deserve.
We actually thought that we had done quite well spotting the sculptures as we walked along. That was until we were almost back at the beginning and realised that we had only managed to spot around a third of all the beautiful sculptures.
As we left to head back to the car, we noticed that the Pensthorpe Explorer was sitting by the main entrance. Sadly, I’d missed the signs on the way in about the two journeys it makes around the park and hidden areas.
Given the natural of Pensthorpe, there is a lack of toilet facilities around the main area of the trails. With these situated at the main entrance and play areas. This being said the facilities that are available are clean, well maintained and suitable for families. If you have a little one who is on their potty training journey, you might want to consider popping a pull-up on them (just in case).
Ready to visit again
Although we had an amazing day, the weather was beautiful and we’d brought a mini picnic with us. I don’t feel as though we managed to see half of what was available. In hindsight, we would have brought the pushchair with us as the ground is suitable for most all-round urban pushchairs as well as wheelchairs – it is worth noting that there places which are difficult to access, but this is understandable given the nature of the attraction.
With Piglet walking, we managed to complete the Hootz & Friends Discovery Trail, however, we missed out on exploring the many hides around the park. As well as the Old Railway Line, and Wildflower Meadow. Although this does mean that we have even more reason to visit again. Especially as What The Dad Said hasn’t seen the beauty of the Pensthorpe.
How to find Pensthorpe Natural Park
Driving: Pensthorpe Natural Park is found on the main A1067 Fakenham to Norwich road. Located just outside Fakenham it is a 45-minute drive from Norwich, King’s Lynn and Cromer (in the various directions). A large gravel car park and overflow car park are available on site which is free to use.
Bus: There is a bus stop located just across the road from the main entrance to Pensthorpe and is used by two different bus services (depending on where you are travelling from).
From Fakenham or Dereham use the No. 21 KonectBus service
From Norwich use the No. X29 Stagecoach service
How to book tickets to visit Pensthorpe Natural Park
You are able to book tickets online for Pensthorpe Natural Park, buy purchasing at least one day in advance you are currently able to save £1.00 per person from the standard admission prices. You are also able to book tickets for the Pensthorpe Explorer online, ensuring that you have your place on the behind the scenes tour secured. Annual memberships for the attraction are also available (and offer great value for money if you are looking to visit a few times)