Knowle Park NT: a fabulous place for wild children

Knowle Park NT: a fabulous place for wild children

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

Toby deer spotting

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.

A spreading oak at Knowle

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”.

‘Pirate ship’ adventure

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

Helter-skelter tree

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.

12 Comments

  • Plutonium Sox

    30th March 2017 at 9:21 pm Reply

    Wow, what an amazing place. We love national trust properties for letting them spend time running around outside as well. That helter-skelter tree is amazing, great photo!
    Nat.x

    • admin

      30th March 2017 at 9:40 pm Reply

      Thanks 🙂 We hadn’t been in years, but at the age the kids are now it was perfect. We’re big fans of our NT membership 🙂

  • Rebecca Beesley

    3rd April 2017 at 10:14 pm Reply

    How funny that I come across this via #countrykids today after meeting you today!!! knowle is near us so if you ever head there again, will have to meet up and let the kids run around. x

    • admin

      3rd April 2017 at 10:22 pm Reply

      It was lovely to meet you 🙂 We’re often not far from you at places like Scotney Castle, so a meet up definitely on the cards x

  • Sonia Cave

    4th April 2017 at 4:20 pm Reply

    Wow this looks fantastic. National Trust is really trying hard to get little people to engage with the outdoors it’s great #countrykidsfun

    • admin

      4th April 2017 at 6:57 pm Reply

      It’s a pretty good time to be raising kids I think as there is increasing awareness of how important this stuff is 🙂

  • The Princess and The Pickle

    5th April 2017 at 1:58 pm Reply

    This looks great. I love how the National Trust have so many natural play opportunities for children.

    • admin

      5th April 2017 at 2:01 pm Reply

      They are lovely 🙂 Thanks for commenting

  • Pamela Agar

    5th April 2017 at 9:28 pm Reply

    Oh, my pair would love all that tree climbing and den building. Such beautiful, gnarly trees! #countrykids

    • admin

      9th April 2017 at 7:31 pm Reply

      I loved that it felt adventurous to them, but wasn’t ‘Mum! I’m stuck!’ high 🙂

  • Fiona Cambouropoulos

    5th April 2017 at 9:49 pm Reply

    We had National Trust membership last year and visited Knowle Park. The friendly deer were a highlight even to my own kids growing up at Coombe Mill with a field of deer. I remember my heart sinking when we saw the busy car park, but like you say the grounds are so large you wonder where they have all gone! The house was great too, was this where they explained the origins of the “dumb bell”? I have a feeling it was the soundless bell used for men to pull to strengthen their arms whilst waiting their turn on the snooker table. Lovely to see your photos from the gorgeous grounds, looks like Hubster and littlest had an adventure of their own.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    • admin

      9th April 2017 at 7:30 pm Reply

      You have deer too? Your place sounds more amazing each time I read about 🙂 Thanks for commenting x

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