We kicked off the bank holiday weekend with a day trip down to Leeds Castle in Maidstone – somewhere I visited often as a child. Just an hour from Herne Hill, it’s an easy drive – and well worth the time in the car. It was a pretty gloomy day, but the Castle still looked dramatic set in its idyllic position set on a lake.
We spent a over four hours exploring the enormous gardens. It was Wildlife Weekend – and we certainly took that theme to heart, with a constant theme being meeting all the birdlife of Kent! The children loved being surrounded by ducks, geese, swans and their chicks, being very quiet and (mostly) still so as not to scare them:
The chicks were so inquisitive – they seemed fascinated in Alex and Sophie!
The birds which caused the most excitement amongst the children were the peacocks that roamed the gardens – whenever we heard them call, Alex got very excited as he was convinced it was Kevin from the film “Up”! Here’s one hiding in the tulips!
They were as inquisitive as the chicks, checking Alex and Sophie out at close quarters!
Of course, the favourite was the colourful male, and we spent ages watching one explore the formal gardens:
The children were rewarded for their patience by a full peacock display – stunning!
We continued the ornithological theme by watching a falconry display – although the birds of prey were so fast, we didn’t seem to take any photos at all!
When not spotting birds, we loved the excellent maze, getting really quite lost for longer than we perhaps intended! I was just starting to get concerned that we’d never get out, when we found the centre and descended into the surreal and spooky grotto to exit. The children couldn’t decide if they loved the intricate sculptures or were scared of them!
We also spent a good hour in the brilliant adventure playgrounds climbing, sliding and making sandcastles.
Alex and Sophie loved all the open space, getting very brave about how far they’d go without us. Alex is getting so big – he happily ran over bridges and ended up on the otherside of a lake to us, loving the independence! How grown up does he look, chilling out by a wall?
As we slowly meandered back through the grounds to the car, we paused for a comedy photo moment, attempting some family photos on the timer.
And some, sadly not quite in focus, family snaps in front of the glorious castle:
And my favourite photo of the day – a potentially lovely shot of the four of us, but unfortunately Sophie’s heart wasn’t in it, and her face betrays her opinion of posing for the camera timer!
Despite Sophie’s face, we had such a lovely day. While the tickets are expensive, they are valid for the next 12 months, so I think we’ll be back quite a bit and will get our money’s worth. It’s such a welcoming place for children, not minding scooters, providing loads of space for picnics and so many opportunities for play. If only they’d had decent ice cream! Hopefully next time when it’s a bit warmer…
What a lovely looking family day out. I’d love to visit Leeds Castle myself, only ever seen signs for it from the motorway. Do think about linking up with Country Kids sometime and see you this afternoon!