If you’re looking for things to do with the kids (or grown ups for that matter!), then Leeds Castle is a beautiful spot which you will want to return to (not least to take advantage of the year-long tickets).
It’s a stunning setting (the River Len was diverted in order to build the castle essentially on 2 islands) and has loads to keep the kids entertained as well as some great history to immerse yourself in.
To reach the castle you meander through beautiful gardens set either side of a stream, pass gorgeous stretches of lawn flanked with amazing flowerbeds and catch glimpses of the castle with its moat in the foreground complete with black swans which the last owner introduced from Australia. Past the castle, there is a courtyard offering various food and drink options. Another lovely stroll takes you through the kitchen gardens which run parallel to the river and onto the play areas, maze, another cafe, a falconry display area (and when we visited a big top with a special attraction on the Battle of Britain).
At Leeds Castle, we particularly enjoyed:
- Exploring off the main paths and spotting waterfalls and wildlife in the cascade garden
- Viewing the short video graphic showing the history of the castle and how it has changed over the years (this really helped the boys visualise where we were once inside the castle). As you enter through the first main gate, it’s in a room to your right
- The themed i-spy trail sheets in the castle (these might be easily missed – look out for the laminated sheets at the bottom of the magazine rack as you enter the first room). There are lots to choose from such as knights, princesses, birds, animals and heraldry
- Taking a picnic and watching the wildlife on the river (though the options in the cafes looked very kid friendly and we certainly enjoyed ice cream and freshly-made donuts as an afternoon treat!)
- The play areas (there are 2 which between them cater for most age groups and abilities)
- The maze (though be aware that it ends in a grotto with low lighting and “atmospheric” music which my youngest wasn’t at all sure about…)
- The well thought-out benches in front of the playgrounds. Perfect for enjoying a coffee while the kids play!
- Catching the ferry back from the play areas to the cascade gardens. You see the castle from a different perspective and it certainly saves little legs some of the walk back (the ferry costs £1 and is cash only; there’s also a train which takes you from near the car park to the castle)
We also spotted punting on the moat and Segway tours and I hear it’s beautiful at Christmas with a market. Next time!
Lou’s top tip: buy your Leeds Castle tickets online beforehand as the queue was really long