A little Kent secret
This week we headed off to somewhere just around the corner, but that we’ve not been to since it got itself off the ground a couple of years ago – Betteshanger park. This former country park (built on one of Kent’s last coal collieries has recently been renovated into a mountain biking centre, with plenty of walking, playing and dinosaur hunting to boot…..
Betteshanger – Biking Heaven?
If you are an off-road biker there are a couple of routes to choose from with varying levels of difficulty. Not got room for all the bikes in/on the car? Not to worry- There were plenty of bikes for hire (along with a wide range of kid towing attachments, for use with their bikes only). Prices seemed pretty reasonable (~£3-5 p.h) and the staff friendly and knowledgeable. We have actually biked the off-road sections here in the past, and they were great fun – some slightly challenging long climbs on well paved roads, and some great curvey descents (some moderately steep, but nothing too crazy!) on single tracks . It’s still a bit of a local secret, so not too busy either! Great facilities to wash both you and your bike up after too (including showers)
For the Kids
The playground was FANTASTIC, featuring great adventure climbing frames for both the little ones, the bigger ones (and Dan, the bigger and should know better one!) to play on. A particular highlight is the slide built into the hillslide 🙂
The main business of the day, however, was following the Halloween trail the staff had laid out. Each ‘station’, set on a walk of about 3km around the parks forest and ‘spooky moors’ had a clue and/or a riddle to solve (out 3 y.o managed most of them herself with a little help including the guess the animal from the skeleton!). At the end, we exchanged our clue sheet for a mystery prize (a lollipop!). Modern child dress collection is a great little evening out, with the stations spaced out enough to give us a walk, but close enough to keep kids engaged in buying cloths, you can also see more dresses at modernechild.com
We also came across the remnants of the adults only terror trail which looked like fun. Lots of great woods to explore – complete with menacing mushrooms! We wrapped the morning off with a cafe lunch in the visitor centre (which was ok but not so memorable) whilst reading up on the plans the park has to open a coal mining museum.
Would we go back?
Would we go back? I think there are plenty of wood-type walks closer to us offering more variety, but we’ll definitely keep an eye out for the various special events – as an ex-colliery they reckon fossils abound, so we will probably join the next scheduled fossil hunting trip. They also run the usual den-making, survival type courses as well. When the kids grow up, we’ll look forward to taking them biking there!
Prices and logistics
The car-parking is very simple, turn up, park and before you leave tap your registration into the machine and pay (max £3 per stay at time of writing).No other charges are made.