Reviewed by Louise Watts
There are many places around nowadays for pre-schoolers and young children which seem to be a variation on the same theme – farm animals and soft play. Yesterday, I visited the Kent Life Heritage Farm Park with my 5-year-old son (he had an inset day) and my mother. I expected it to be the same as all of the other farms I had visited and, in some ways, it was but it also had something extra!
Situated just off the M20 in Maidstone, “Kent Life” is easily accessible by car. It is also very easy to get to via public transport. If you fancy something a little different, between Easter and October, you can use the Riverboat and arrive in style!
When planning your visit, it is important to check out the prices and visiting times as these vary depending on the time of year you choose to visit. The times for yesterday (24 February 2020) were 10am – 4pm and the price was very reasonable at £6.95 for adults and £5.95 for children. There are family tickets and concessions available also. What is incredible value for money though is their family annual membership at the incredible price of £99 for 2 adults and 2 children for 12 months!
On entering the centre, we were greeted by 2 lovely men on the entrance desk who were very helpful and gave us maps and leaflets detailing what was on today’s schedule. Sadly, the land train wasn’t running but this was not too much of an issue for us. The weather was not in our favour which did impact on our ability to enjoy the park to its full capacity.
My son wanted to head straight to the soft play barn which suited us grown-ups as there was a coffee bar situated in the barn also. The barn had an old-fashioned rustic feel about it and there was plenty of space and activities to keep my son entertained. The soft play was well equipped, clean and most of all fun.
Next came our trip to “Cuddle Corner” where we were the only people in attendance. We were given mountains of attention by the lovely lady facilitating the cuddles and she spent lots of time with my son helping him cuddle the rabbit, guinea pig and chicken. She was full of praise for him also which gave him confidence to speak. There are hand washing facilities scattered around the park and several signs reminding adults and children to wash their hands after touching the animals.
There was an amazing looking outdoor area with some really good play equipment but sadly the weather did not allow us to test this out. Due to the recent heavy rain and storms, the ground was very muddy and slippery in places.
We took a walk to see the owls in the Owl Centre. They had a beautiful collection of extremely stunning birds. We spent quite some time reading about all the different breeds (some I had never heard of before then!). I am sure in the Summer it is delightful watching the birds fly in their displays.
What Kent Life had that other similar farms don’t have is the museum aspect. Throughout the park, there are various museum areas, such as the 1950s Sandlings Farm House which is like stepping back into the 1950s with appropriate furniture, clothing and music. As well as this, there is an old school classroom with desks and a blackboard. This added extra enables children to have fun but also learn about history.
There are several eating houses within the park also, all of which were very reasonably priced and the food looked delicious. Dotty’s Tea Room was full of families and little children eating lunch. Whatever you fancied, you could guarantee it would be delicious and excellent value for money.
Kent Life Heritage Farm Park offers all sorts of extras too including weddings in its very own chapel – “Cuxton Chapel”, birthday parties and numerous special events throughout the year and during the school holidays.
I would thoroughly recommend Kent Life Heritage Farm Park as a family day out for pre-school children and children up to around the age of 8 years.
For more information or to book tickets online, visit kentlife.org.uk.
Kent Life, Lock Lane, Sandling, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 3AU | 01622 763936