How is it only 3 weeks until the Easter holidays already?! I feel as though the kids have only just gone back to school, and already we are wracking our brains over how to keep them occupied for a whole 16 days in the run up to Easter. Over the next three weeks, I will try to review lots of different places which we think are perfect for Easter holiday fun so that by the time they roll round, you’ll be struggling to fit everything in ;). Today I have gone for one place we have been to quite a few times over the last 6 and a half years and things we have learnt from our most recent trips. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are kept on a lead by the livestock and the play park itself is off limits, opening times are 9am – 9pm (or dusk, whichever one happens first).
The park isn’t very far to drive as it is right by the junction for the service station. You can also get there by train from Ashford Station to Sandling station, and then it is a 15 minute walk from the station. It takes an hour on the bus, but again…it is doable if you’d prefer to go by bus.
First things first…park the car…carefully.
Parking at Brockhill is extremely straight forward if the park isn’t busy. There is a relatively decent sized car park for quiet periods but as soon as the weekends and school holiday strike, or the sun decides to show its unpredictable face…parking is a nightmare. Most of the time, the car park over flows onto the grass verges either side of the entrance driveway, and on the grass under the trees just before you reach the car park. Last year, I went with our friends and we took three cars between us and because I was parked slightly on the grass, I got a parking ticket and the other two (parked right next to me), didn’t! I had even spent £2.50 on a parking ticket and everything but nope, that clearly wasn’t enough for the greedy people working in the car park and they tried to con me out of £70. However, I quickly learnt that because it was a privately owned car park, I didn’t have to pay the fine and although it reached over £200 eventually, they soon gave up trying to scare me into paying it and the case was dropped. Providing you park in the right place, parking will only cost you £1.50 on weekdays and £2.50 on weekends and bank holidays, and they use a registration plate camera so they are aware as to when you enter and exit the park so make sure you get the ticket as soon as you get there otherwise they charge you for that too.
There are toilets and baby change right next to the car park and the little café, but these are the only toilets in the park so it might be worth getting everyone to squeeze out a tinkle before you walk further into the park to save any runs back up the hill to the toilets (quite steep and way too much hassle)…or embarrassing squatting in bushes (which we’ve had to just get over and let our kids do many a time, but when a kid needs to go…they need to go!).
The play park
What I like about Brockill, is the fact the play park is right by the car park so you really don’t have to walk very far if that is the only bit you want to go to. There are also some picnic benches just outside the park and a large grass area if you did want to take a quick picnic so you don’t have to go on a massive ramble if you are only popping by for an hour or so.
The park isn’t the largest we’ve ever been to but there is a big slide which the kids seem to go nutty for; and a horribly dark, crawl through tunnel which goes underneath it should you want to check whether or not you are claustrophobic (I did…and I am!) . There are also a couple of sets of swings, a roundabout, a toddler area and a small climbing frame so definitely enough to burn off some energy at least.
Going past the park…
If you want to carry on along the path deeper into the park, you can take pushchairs quite easily, but you just have to carry them down the steps when you get to them. We managed perfectly fine with a pushchair when my son was a few months old, but it might be slightly harder with wheelchairs.
The park itself is beautiful, there are a lot of bridges to play pooh sticks, trees to climb on and lakes to look at. It is a natural park though, and the lakes and rivers don’t have any safety measures around them so again, might be worth making sure the kids don’t run too far ahead. With adequate supervision though, there is a lot to see around the lake and we have often seen kids with fishing nets in the streams catching little fish in their ice cream tubs. The lake itself, the last time we went, is pure green and stinky but it does mean you get to see a lot of insects, frogs and dragonflies at least.
If you continue down the paths and steps to the very bottom of the park, you’ll find the fields where there are sheep and cows, which you are able to walk through and the animals are really friendly but obviously the further into the park you walk, the further you have to walk back. We got lost the first time we ever went, and ended up in the Brockhill school field, it is easily done! We’ve been to the park in all weathers, but prefer it when it’s dry. Take some food and drink with you (the café is quite expensive) and you can quite easily spend a whole morning or afternoon at the park.