Pensthorpe Natural park – Summer 2020!

Pensthorpe Natural park – Summer 2020!

We have been visiting Pensthorpe as a family since Florence was a baby and have to say it is the first place I thought of visiting in a post lockdown world as I knew, with it being mostly outside fun, it would be safe and feel far less angst making than other attractions. That’s not to say they haven’t had to make some very strict changes to their practices because of course they have and they also have a very comprehensive list of what’s new and why on their website with a great little “before you visit” section to make you feel more comfortable.

What can you expect from a day out post lockdown at Pensthorpe?!

Essentially for tickets:

  1. Prebook on line so that they can keep count of visitors – their capacity is lowered to ensure social distancing can be met between guests.
  2. If you are unable to select the day you like they are sold out for that day.
  3. You CAN book on the day you visit but be mindful that you may be disappointed as they are likely to be full.
  4. There are 3 arrival slots in the morning and another in the afternoon for members only. Members also have to book and can book for any slot.

Essentially for facilities on the park:

  1. Some toilets are closed but of course there are others available and you are asked to go in as a family and lock the door behind you so only one household is using them at any one time (this is the best toilet situation I have seen and works brilliantly)! Baby change facilities are i all open toilets.
  2. The cafe is open for a takeaway service on the courtyard and there is a snack shack in the playground. Picnic benches have been added and others moved so that social distancing can be adhered to.
  3. Wheelchairs (which are cleaned between uses) are available.
  4. Bird hatches are open but you are reminded to socially distance at all times.
  5. Contactless payment is preferred on site.
  6. Face coverings are required in the shop and admissions desk which have been adapted with a protective screen.
  7. There are plenty of hand sanitisers, floor markings, and signs to remind you to keep safe.

And that’s the info. On their website it is far more detailed and I would recommend covering it before you visit as it is important. It is, in my opinion, a much safer environment in general when the place you visit takes it as seriously as Pensthorpe are. Sure, it is up to us all to ensure our safety and keep others safe too but with the constant positive reinforcement of the desire to be COVID safe I really think it just rubs off on everyone without being too intrusive. Everyone is doing it so you’re doing it too without thinking and it 100% does not affect the enjoyment of the day – for me the fact I can relax knowing everyone is being safe adds to me having a good day out which is what we all want!

What else is different? Well, there is a new map which we also got to try out as right now we are directed to walk around the reserve in the opposite direction that my in built sat nav wants to take. It took me a while to adjust as we have done the walk so many times from the other direction that it didn’t feel right but it is the best way to do it for now and actually, if you’ve not been before it would affect you not! It is of course a one way system which is the safest thing to do and we didn’t really encounter many other people because the park is vast. This is a weekend day in the height of the summer holidays and it felt quiet, calm and lovely to be in the thick of nature albeit going the other way around the park which my brain just didn’t want to accept. We always do the play area at the end which makes sense and I had feared starting at the end so to speak would mean seeing the play area first and taking the kids attention but Pensthorpe are more clever than that and cleverly make it so it is avoided until the end if you so wish – just as usual!

Our very own Von-Trapp line up starting at the very beginning, which is a very good place to start!
I love the Millenium gardens all year round and the new map has a little info about it in each season. This is also now near the new start but can be taken at the end by looping back just as with the park, flamingo and Cranes and pond for dipping (although dipping is temporarily halted for now)! (Jonny couldn’t be in this picture as he didn’t get the memo to wear blue – Oh well)!
The new picnic area is awesome actually and very distanced from everyone else. We saw quite a few families here and spent a lot of time before we’d even started the walk because it was so peaceful even though other families were around!
Once on the walk however and we felt like the only people in the park – barely saw another soul!
The walk is an easy one and very beautiful – good for wheels too!
I like how you can deviate from the path to see little off shoots of the walk like the wild flower meadow and our special Pooh sticks bridge! The map shows you where you can take little side routes which is handy as I’m not sure we’ve noticed that on previous ones!
Lots of absolutely stunning gardens make is so beautiful, especially now!
And feeding the ducks (terrifying Raffie) comes at the end instead of the beginning – bird food is £1 and can be paid for on card at the snack shack in the picnic area!

There are no hands on activities like the stamp trail but they have instead created a nature treasure trail which was just as much fun and though the indoor Hootz House was closed (it’s lush in there so shame but hey, it’s summer so who wants to be indoors anyway?!) the outdoor park more than, more than made up for it! It is WILD!

The park which is built around a stream to be played in is just wonderful. WONDERFUL!
I can’t believe Raffie is big enough for the zip wires now – just about!
It is just awesome how they have blended this ,magnificent beast of a play ground into the trees – clever!
They had the best time!
Kamikazi Raff especially!
Although we didn’t escape the day without a cold compress – he’s fine just a big bump!

The park is a rolling landscape of outdoor wooden fun and running through the middle, a beautiful man made stream of such excellence I wish I had taken my own swimming costume. The children love it here come rain or shine but oh on a sunshine day it is so beautiful and the perfect ending to another lovely, lovely visit to one of our faves!

Pensthorpe have thought of everything, I have not even the slightest of critiques about them (and as you all know, I usually have one or two) – they couldn’t be doing this any better. My only hope is that when we visit next time they don’t have to be doing anything other than being Pensthorpe. They have it all, nature, play, bird watching, bird feeding, freedom… It is a truly wonderful day out with much to see and do.

Pensthorpe are open every single day of the year bar Christmas Evem Christmas Day and Boxing Day and right now are open from 10am-4pm and adults cost £12.95 while children over the age of 3 (under 3s are FREE) and seniors cost £11.95 for day tickets.

We received press tickets in return for this review.