4th September 2016
Can’t resist a fun groupon and love an interesting train journey so a great combination when the Tunbridge Wells steam train came up. We had planned to get off at one end to visit Groomsbridge Place but you have to do an instant return with the groupon voucher which is odd. So we drove to Groomsbridge Place afterwards.
The station has a great waiting area with interactive displays and a kids play table with, of course, trains. Also a well stocked gift shop if you have a fan of Thomas with you. We managed to escape with just one small carriage with a B for Betty on it. They have many family orientated weekends with Thomas, Paw Patrol, Postman Pat and more, as if a steam train isn’t enough of a draw!
The train is delightful with velvet seats around tables and a few first class sections. It’s only a short ride but still a lovely journey. You get to see the impressive High Rocks as you pass the tiny station. The buffet carriage was understaffed when we travelled so the queue was long and we reached Eridge before I got to the front so I jumped off there quickly and got hot drinks and snacks on the platform instead. Then there was just time for some photos at the front with the engine. Not sure I liked the train name though!
Once back in Tunbridge Wells we took a short drive to Groomsbridge Place. Amazing outdoor fun. We got there just in time to see the birds of prey display, not like the conventional ones. Much more informative and relaxed, letting the bird do what they wanted, even if that was fly off looking for prey…
Lunch in the cafe was excellent and huge portions. Loads of room for buggies which was handy as Betty had dropped off. We took a leisurely walk around the formal garden that has different planting styles around the house which isn’t open to visit. Japanese and Knot gardens and a little cabin dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who based one of his novels here due to his connections with the estate. Betty woke just in time for the boat ride along the river where you see crocodiles and snakes (all fake luckily). The area is all accessible up until the dropping off point. Then you enter the forest. It starts with a huge Robinson Crusoe style wooden climbing frame/rope bridge/play house which you could easily spend all day at. The walk continues through many themed areas in the woodland where you can see huge spiders, gypsy caravans and carved totem poles. Look out for the dinosaur and the numerous overgrown ponds that feel like Jurassic Britain. Brilliant fun.
Baby/toddler friendly info:
Tunbridge Wells station has a disabled toilet with changing facilities.
There is storage spaces for buggies on board the trains and the staff will help you out.
Babies and toddlers ride on your lap for the journey.
The shop is filled with train based toys, but you can enter and exit avoiding this. Otherwise you have an afternoon asking for Thomas the Tank Engine…
Groomsbridge Place has baby changing in the cafe.
It is mainly pushchair accessible except for the forest area which is better covered with a sling. But an off road pushchair could manage it.