In my last post I wrote about Ollie and I seeing Cressida Cowell at NT Knowle Park at Sevenoaks in Kent. My regulars may be
wondering what happened to littlest Acorn while his big brother was engaging in a bit of hero worship? Be at ease, he was in good hands with the hubster, exploring the grounds of Knowle Park, creeping up on deer, collecting bones and climbing trees.
After the talk and book signing we all met up together again to climb the tower and explore the rooms that were still open to the public that day. Then we had a picnic, followed by running wild all over the acres and acres of King Henry VIII’s deer park, acquired by him (some might say pinched) from the Archbishop of Canterbury who had just spent a fortune aggrandizing it and later passing to the Sackville-West family, who still inhabit areas of the property.
We spend a portion of most days doing some sit-down work – writing, maths, computer work – so our antidote to this is to try to spend the vast majority of our free time outdoors, allowing the boys to be the wild little children they are at heart. I love the expression (and have worn it out) “it’s hard for children to bounce off the walls if there are none”.
Knowle provided plenty of opportunities for being wild, with groves of trees, many of which had been blown over, to climb and build dens in. We felt the textures of the different trees, practiced identifying them, looked for clues about how old they were, and how long ago the fallen had been blown over. The boys sometimes loudly charged around like mad things and sometimes quietly tried creeping up on the wildlife for a closer look. There were plenty of deer to spot, grazing peacefully in twos and threes, or cascading over the hillsides in larger groups.
Despite the full car park there was no sense of crowding, the vast acreage
dispersed the crowds of visitors and off the main tracks we very often had the place to ourselves. It was a great place for some nature studies, comparing the conditions in the still, dry, bare, darkness underneath the stand of pine trees with the bright conditions underneath the oaks, with their carpet of grasses, ferns and wild flowers at their feet.
This is a great place for running around and imaginative play, and definitely somewhere we will visit again.
Notes: the main walks are reasonably accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs, but it’s a vast site with rolling hills, and the buildings are old and understandably not completely accessible (winding staircases for example), although there are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities right inside the entrance. For us I think if we still had really little ones we would have favoured a sling or backpack carrier at this site rather than a pram. There is a café on site.