Recently we visited BeWILDerwood in Norfolk for the first time! If you’re not from the area or haven’t been before, BeWILDerwood is like a high-spec, hand-built, Ewok village, where little ones can roam freely into their imaginations and into wild adventure. (Norfolk is worth visiting for this reason alone.)
By its nature, BeWILDerwood is a great place for children to engage with the outdoors, and because of the magical storytelling behind the concept, it’s also a really creative way to experience adventure.
Here’s more about our day, along with some tips to prepare you for your visit!
I’d been itching to try BeWILDerwood since before I became pregnant! However, we delayed our first visit after little Evelyn broke her arm at nursery last summer. Earlier this year we received the all-clear from our consultant and shortly after we made a beeline for BeWILDerwood.
In a way, I’m glad our first visit happened just two months before her fourth birthday because it feels like the perfect age – she is now the right height to experience everything on offer at the park.
The different features of the park can be accessed dependant on your height: Born to BeWILD Up to 92cm and Almost WILD From 92 – 105cm.
However, there are heaps of activities at BeWILDerwood that are suitable for under 3s (BeWILD). When they reach around pre-school / school age (Almost WILD) this is when they can they really take full advantage of everything. It’s by no coincidence; it’s also the age when children have enough independence and stability to explore without too much helicopter parenting required.
The Magic Behind It
Bewilderwood is based on the adventures of the magical characters from local author and creator, Tom Blofeld, which is why you’ll encounter quirky characters and phrases like Twiggle, Boggle and Crocklebog to name but a few. As a prose and poetry writer, I was very drawn to the storytelling behind the park. The characters, language and themes contain hints of the 1980s fantasy/adventure film, Labyrinth, and of Harry Potter – though BeWILDerwood is of course entirely unique.
The Adventure Begins
Most will start the day by accessing the main site via the boat ride – watch out for any surprises en route! I’ll say no more. Alternatively, you can take the woodland walk and bridges to access the main site.
Wellbeing for Children
Our little girl started going to forest school when she was two years old. So I’m a big fan of outdoor learning. It’s a great way for children to gain confidence and improve their self-esteem, which can of course contribute to their emotional and mental wellbeing. BeWILDerwood seems like a great extension of the concept of forest school learning; there are references to nature throughout but in particular, due to its focus on adventure, it’s a brilliant way to grow children’s physical confidence and also a wonderful way to capture their imagination.
Off to a flying start…
Who is it for?
No matter how young or old you are, you can clamber, crawl, climb and slide around this enchanting world.
Entry is half price for over 65s so if you have a relatively fit grandparent, do take them, they will love it too.
We have a spirited four year old, she knows exactly what she wants, is highly determined and extremely adventurous. This place was made for her. Though if you have a shyer child, this is also a great place to help boost their confidence and taste for adventure too.
It’s the sort of place that’s even better when explored with a friend or sibling of a similar age. We also invited Evelyn’s cousin, Lydia who is six years old. Together, the cousins loved exploring together.
Inside this WILD & Wonderful World
We started passing through The Grubbles Greeting Gates. Then from Tricky Tunnels, to Den Building, getting lost in the Sky Maze (which we did), exploring the Twiggle and Boggle Village, navigating the Muddle Maze and Tiptoe Valley, I think it’s safe to say that our two favourite areas as a family were whooshing down the Slippery Slopes and whizzing down the Wobbly Wires.
Other highlights include
Learn about the magic behind BeWILDerwood during the Storytelling Stage (three times a day). A great spot for a rest and snack.
The Munch Bar is a reasonably-priced eatery at BeWILDerwood which serves up hot drinks, fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, hot pastries, sandwiches, hot lunches and baked potatoes – with some good veggie options too.
Don’t forget to swing by the craft activities at the Big Hat if you need to pause.
We didn’t have time for face painting but this is available at the Face Paint Pavilion
We also tried out the brand new Towering Treetop Tangles – a new addition to the park where you can scramble through the tangles and explore the canopy. This is a lovely addition and simply makes BeWILDerwood into quite an adventure.
You’ll need a full day for sure!
In short, this was one of the best days out we’ve had as a family. I knew it would be fun but I didn’t appreciate just how brilliant it would be. Evelyn was completely in her element, her face an absolute picture from start to finish – I know all parents say this but it really did bring so much joy seeing how excited and happy she was all day.
Apart from family holidays abroad, I can’t actually remember a day out where every single one of us was so overjoyed for the entire time. I suspect it was partly to do with the addrenilin rushes but also discovering the magic and fun at every turn.
In particular, thrill-seeking Matthew (Daddy), can often be a ‘tough customer’ to please in general and it’s not very often that he will offer praise or bestow compliments easily to this kind of thing. But he was so impressed with BeWILDerwood, he started talking about our next visit in the car on the way home.
The real reason we came…
And me, well, once upon a time I was a ‘Tom Boy’. This place was exactly my idea of heaven as a child so not only did it transport me back but to similar woodland adventures but it also provided a great opportunity for some exercise, something I don’t do enough of these days.
Things to Take or Bear in Mind…
- Shoes: Structured, comfortable shoes for climbing and scrambling. Same applies for adults! Evelyn was in-between seasons so we didn’t have her current Clarks trainers to hand and she managed absolutely fine in Ugg boots but trainers or plimsoles would be better.
- Streamline your baggage: Leave your hand bag at home and bring one small rucksack for the adults to take turns in carrying. You need to be nimble and mobile so you don’t want to be leaving your bags and belongings in one spot due to the transient nature of this park.
- Hydrate: Water bottles – you’ll be very thirsty!
- A sense of adventure: be prepared to allow your child to take risks but obviously keep a close eye on them at all times. Although this adventurous play area is extremely safe and built to last, never take your eye off the prize (your child)
- Adults, expect to get stuck in! The majority of the slides and activities are designed for adults too. This is the sort of play area where you can sit back and have a coffee and watch your children (unless you have older children). And in fairness, you won’t want to, you really will want to try everything yourself too.
- Bring high-energy snacks: nuts, protein balls and portable fruit like bananas. Though don’t worry about lunch, the Munch Bar serves hot and cold lunches that are really reasonably priced.
- Bring your pelvic floor: Expect to laugh a lot!
- Weather: Although it’s outdoors, it’s an all-weather type of place. Obviously if the temperatures are freezing you might not fancy visiting with small children but it’s a great place during spring and autumn because you won’t be too hot running about the place. Equally I should imagine the summer months are glorious too because it’s set in and amongst trees, it’s very shaded in most of the areas.
Happiest when zip-lining…
NB: It’s cheaper to book in advance!
Born to BeWILD
Up to 92cm
From 92 – 105cm (£16.50 on the gate)
Taller than 105cm (£18.50 on the gate)
65 years + (£10.50 on the gate)
Proof of carer status is required for a carer ticket. Accepted forms of ID are DLA or PIP letter.
After an ice cream at the end of the day, we were all ready to head into Wroxham for a bite to eat. I can really recommend The Station Smoke House for food. They do a mean veggie burger there and offer a quirky railway themed setting!
10am – 5.30pm
Please check opening dates calendar for opening times post 15th September.