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Parenting blog: Exploring the nature trail at Coolings
A friend introduced us to this great little place in Kent, near Sevenoaks. It’s quite a drive from where we live in Beckenham, and it’s becoming more of a challenge to entertain the little one (LO) in the car, but it was well worth the journey.
Last Saturday, my husband and I took a trip out there with our 15-month-old son. We entertained ourselves for a couple of hours, enjoyed a family lunch and purchased some pretty new garden plants! Win, win!
There are two Coolings locations - to reach Coolings Green & Pleasant you need to continue to Main Road. The postcode wasn’t recognised on my satnav so it’s possible to get lost in the farmlands!
On first impression, it looks like any other garden centre but there is so much to explore through the green sliding doors. Once you’ve paid your entry fee in the shop (£3 for adults and under 5s go free), follow the map markers through the garden centre to the wooded archway. Remember to pick up a bag of pig feed and check out the aquarium before you set off. The trail has bark and different inclines so its best explored on foot (with closed shoes) and consider taking baby in a sling as pushing a buggy is hard work.
The six-acre nature trail is located on the old Whitelegg's Nursery land and is now a haven for wildlife. My LO especially loved feeding Pauline the pig, watching the chickens walk with bobbing heads and belly laughed at the geese making a loud ‘honk’ noise. You can capture great photos and feel like a kid again chasing through the conifer tunnel.
Once you’ve built up an appetite you can treat yourself at the Blueberry Café. They have a full menu with sandwiches, soups or quiche of the day. They also serve Costa drinks so you can get a decent coffee and delicious piece of home-made cake.
For little nature trail explorers there is the Seedlings children’s menu, or you can select from the pick-and-mix menu, which includes items like cheese, raisins, juice, cheese or jam sandwich, grapes etc. Highchairs are available, baby-changing facilities are clean and the café has a small play area to keep toddlers amused.
The café is quite pricey so if you want to bring a picnic they have designated areas for seating.
This is one of our new favorite family places; we will definitely be returning next time for one of the children’s storytelling sessions.
For more information, visit www.coolings.co.uk/green-and-pleasant
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