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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Eight FREE and really cheap places to take young kids near Tonbridge, Kent - Part 1

FREE and really cheap places to take babies, toddlers and young children/kids near Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, West Kent

Living in Kent, there are some amazing attractions locally, especially when the weather starts to perk up.


You can see some of the places we've been to under the 'Stuff to do' tab - which I am slowly adding to as time permits.

However, I'll be frank; when you have kids who are too young to be in school and you have seven days a week to fill, paying entry fees to some of these fabulous places - even when it's only for yourself - can mount up. For me, they are more of a weekend family activity, and during the week we aim to keep the costs down as much as possible.

I've rounded up a list of the places that we tend to go when we need a trip out of the house without spending too much cash, and here they are:

1) Broadview Gardens and Tea Room, Hadlow

Broadview Gardens, Hadlow
Just outside of Tonbridge, on the Hadlow College grounds are Broadview Gardens, which are kept by the horticulture students. The parking is free and plentiful, and you can easily kill an hour or two meandering round the gardens, which are beautiful at any time of year.
Broadview Gardens, Hadlow
As a bonus there is a lovely little tea rooms there and some tables outside overlooking some swings and a slide, so you can have a cup of tea and a scone watching the kids play. There is even a little family room complete with toys suitable for toddlers inside, in case the weather doesn't lend itself to tea outdoors. Nine times out of ten during the week, it's pretty much empty.
Broadview Gardens, Hadlow
There is a garden centre attached and a baby changing room.

Find out more here.


2) Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge

Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge
You do have to pay for parking, but that's the only cost and it isn't expensive (and you can use your mobile to pay). Use the recently-updated play park, feed the ducks, go for a stroll/cycle/scoot around the lake or through the woods.
Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge
There's a small outdoor cafe if you fancy a cup of tea, but if you can be prepared then take a picnic with you as there are benches dotted about.
Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge
One circuit of the lake is usually enough to wear a toddler out. There are toilets near the entrance.
Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge
Find out more here.

3) Tonbridge Castle Grounds and Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground/Park, Tonbridge


The Whingelets like nothing better than running around the open area in front of the castle. As the big one puts it, 'I like princesses and princesses live in castles'. It's a nice open spot for a game of chase and a roll around on the grass, apparently.
Tonbridge Castle Grounds and Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground/Park, Tonbridge
Next to it is the river and if you walk along it you will meet a multitude of ducks, swans, pigeons and squirrels.
Tonbridge Castle Grounds and Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground/Park, Tonbridge
Inspired by this post from Bell from Bow, I have told the kids if they catch squirrels they can keep them as pets, so that's always a good one to keep them active for a while.
Tonbridge Castle Grounds and Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground/Park, Tonbridge
There's also the big park (with sandpit) nearby, which is often busy depending on when you visit but obviously much quieter during school hours. The park has a mini golf, which isn't free, and we've never been... but one day perhaps. One day. There is also a miniature train outside of the swimming pool, but it only runs at set times. There are public loos just outside the park.
Tonbridge Castle Grounds and Tonbridge Racecourse Sportsground/Park, Tonbridge
Find out more here.

4) Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Sevenoaks

Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Sevenoaks
Get your wellies on and go for a stroll through the woods, watch the birds from the hide (unless there are serious bird watching types in there, I'm not sure they appreciate noisy toddlers, and neither do the birds unsurprisingly), collect sticks - that kind of thing.
Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, Sevenoaks
Parking is free, there's a little cafe and a small museum (the Jeffery Harrison Visitor Centre) inside with taxidermied wildlife if that's your bag and your kids are too young to ask why they're not moving and old enough to understand it (I'm not sure I really am, but hey).
There is a buggy friendly route and there are are loos near the entrance.

Find out more here.

Parts 5-8 can be found here.


What's your favourite low-cost local activity? Have something you think I should add? Get in touch!


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Eight FREE and really cheap places to take babies, toddlers and young children/kids in and around Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Tunbridge Wells, West Kent - Coolings Nature Trail, Sevenoaks Nature Reserve, Tonbridge Park and Castle Grounds, Polhill Garden Centre, Broadview Gardens and tea room, Haysden Country Park and lake, Knole Park, Dunorlan Park

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