On Saturday we spent a lovely day at Tilgate Park in Crawley, West Sussex. On reflection I realised that we actually go there a fair bit so I thought I would share a post on it. We tend to go either meet friends, play in the park or just walk around the lake (above) while Monkey rides his balance bike. It has also become habit to take the Bear Hunt Story Bag with us, and lay bear tracks around leading to a bear glove puppet. So much so it seems Monkey was quite put out that I didn’t have it on me on Saturday.
The large carpark is pay and display, it is £5 for the full day and you can pay by card or cash. Initially we played in the park waiting for our friends. Its a great park and has lots of things to play on as such – which is just as well as it gets very busy on a sunny afternoon. The main attraction is a wooden climbing frame with nets and bridges and slides. One half (below) is for older children and the other is more suitable for younger children, Monkey would will be three shortly enjoyed playing on both sides. Especially walking across the nets but he is a bit of a dare devil and we ended up going dow that slide in the photo below!
There is also another separate wider slide for toddlers, swings, a circle swing which goes in all directions, wire climbing frame, seesaw swing, pretend car and balancing areas. Normally I need to physically drag Monkey away and Saturday was no different! From the park the walled garden is a short walk. Within the garden there is a cafe where we stopped for lunch, they offer the normal array of sandwiches, paninis, jacket potatoes and some kids meals plus hot and cold drinks. Its reasonably quick, well priced and there are lots of tables in and out of the sun. You can also see in the photo below the top of the building which is at the centre of the maze.
There also use to be shire horses in the stables but at the moment they appeared to be empty. Adjoining the walled garden is a stable block with various little craft stalls and workshops leading to the nature centre. This has been undergoing a large amount of work which is still going on, however the value compared to some small farms (and this is much more than that) is extremely good with adults being £2 and children £1, under 2s are free.
Due to the work which they have been doing there are a number of new enclosures which have been sympathetically put together. There is a wide selection of different animals as well as the normal farm animals which you would expect to see. Such as a Racoon Dog, Alpacas, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Cattle, Ponies, Terrapins, Snakes, Meerkats, Mongoose, Tortoise, various different types of Owl, Coati, Reindeer, Red Deer, Kookaburras, Cranes, Ibis and various other bird life, Muntjac, Otters, Rabbits and Guinea Pigs. The list goes on!
One of the new areas is a Bee lookout house and information centre which includes being able to see the bees up close building their honey comb. Monkey was fascinated, as was his little friend who will turn eight shortly. We were lucky to see a number of baby animals including the piglets below which are only two weeks old, a baby Alpca and also a kid which was born literally two days before. At the bottom of the nature centre there is a walking platform which leads you out over another lake and a number of different species of duck and swan. These ones can not be fed as they are managed by the centre. But if your little monkey is like mine and loves feeding the ducks then the ones on the main lake are always hungry.
We didn’t make it round the lake this time the boys wanted to go back and play in the park stopping for an ice cream first from the resident van in the carpark. Tilagte also has Go Ape and a Smith & Westerns in its grounds for older children or if you were after something more substantial for dinner. Many people bring picnics to either have by the lake or at one of the numerous picnic benches. Its a great place for birthday parties and there were several going on, on Saturday.
Something we haven’t done historically but may as Monkey gets older is hire out canoes or kayaks there was a number of the lake on Saturday.
We had a really lovely day and if you are ever in the area I would highly recommend a visit.