Thursday, 18 August 2016

Days Out: Penshurst Place

Knowing we would be staying at home this summer, I made a list of places to visit and this week was the turn of Penshurst Place in Kent.
I'd heard a lot about Penshurst Place and it's beautiful gardens: it dates back to 1341 (much of it remains as it was then) and has been open to the public since 1947. Although I'd have loved to wander through the house and imagine it's prestigious heritage, it was the gardens we came for as, with a toddler keen to explore and a double buggy in tow, we knew the house itself would be something to save for a few years down the line if we really wanted to enjoy it. Helpfully, the pricing for tickets is divided so you can plan your visit to suit you and, having read about their wheelchair access guide, I knew we'd be able to take the pram pretty much everywhere outside.

Being school holidays, we thought it would be ridiculously busy but, after winding our way through some beautiful countryside, we were delighted to find that there was so much to explore that we could easily find areas to explore by ourselves.

We started in the Maize Maze. After a pleasant walk through part of the woodland trail, you turn down a path that opens into beautiful countryside and the maize itself. Before you head in, you're given a map, an activity and a flag on a pole so you can wave it above the maize in case you get really lost!

Designed by Mazescape, it's not any old maze; we were told that the full maze takes about an hour to explore, but there is also a smaller section that is perfect for toddlers whose legs are likely to tire so we ventured there and spent far longer than necessary happily getting lost. In reality, you could probably go round it in 20 minutes and the design, like the petals of a flower, means you never really get lost. I'd been keen to go when it first opened in mid-July, but am so pleased we waited as the full height of the maze makes it more fun and adds some shelter from the sun. It was plenty wide enough and dry enough for our double buggy and we weren't the only ones taking a pram in.

We had lunch in the Porcupine Pantry which has lots on offer and a lovely place to sit for lunch, although you can take your own picnic (we'll probably do that next time as you can eat next to the children's playgrounds), head to the restaurant or grab a snack and drink from the kiosk.

After lunch, we headed to the gardens. They're absolutely stunning! Penshurst is set in 48 acres, 11 of which are Grade I listed formal gardens, and are designed almost like a series of rooms that make you feel as though you are wandering your own private gardens. Charlie had a great time exploring, he was a particular fan of hide and seek and feeling the different textures of the hedges, while the hubs and I were in absolute awe.

I can't recommend Penshurst Place enough. If it's any recommendation at all, we're already planning to go back next summer, although I may sneak in a visit this autumn with the grandparents as, looking through the head gardner's notes online, there is something to visit all year round and it really is a perfect place for children and adults to explore!

Shop the post: cami; denim shorts; sunglasses; sandals (similar); rucksack/changing bag. Cap; t-shirt (part of set); shorts (similar); sneakers.

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