As a family we love to get out and about, especially to explore new places. Recently VisitKent ran a competition to win tickets to Kent attractions for the Kent Big Weekend. We were lucky enough to win tickets to Hever Castle, so of course we were over the moon!
I used to visit with my family as a child myself, and have so many lovely memories - especially of the water maze which was unfortunately still closed during our visit! The Castle is located on the Kent/Surrey/Sussex border and was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. As well as the castle there are huge grounds with mazes, beautiful award-winning gardens, and plenty for the kids to do. Not forgetting the shops and places to eat too.
When we arrived the weather was rubbish; a bit chilly and so so foggy. I can't believe how lucky we were though as within an hour it had brightened up and I even felt heat from the sun! It made our day even more enjoyable, and me even more excited for the Spring and Summer!
Indiana was handed a map on arrival and she became our little navigator. I don't think she put that map down, well apart from when she was eating and playing in the park haha. Luckily we didn't need it though as we managed to get around just fine without it, and there were plenty of big maps to follow just in case.
Around every corner we found something new. We wandered through the beautiful gardens and Indie was full of giggles every time she saw a naked statue - kids are brilliant aren't they! We came across a waterfall and fountain which I think were Indiana's favourites. We sat for ages watching the ducks jump in and out of the water; and we were very impressed that Hever had added ramps to their steps so it was no trouble to walk around with the pushchair!
I think there was a picture opportunity around every corner, as Hever really is just so pretty! Jack was in his element snapping away, and Indie just loved using the time to run around. There is a lot of open water though which isn't protected by fences. So definitely keep a close eye on your little one if you do visit! This wasn't a problem for us, as I think it keeps the natural beauty that a fence would ruin.
You aren't allowed to film or take any photographs in the castle itself which was a shame. We did take both kids inside though no problem, (there's lots of steps though so keep that in mind if you've got little ones). I have always found Henry VIII fascinating so I loved looking around inside. Of course there wasn't much time for reading with Indie walking around though haha.
You can get headphones that guide you around the castle, like your own little personal tour guide. If not there are people dotted around the rooms, who I can imagine are full of knowledge. I tried teaching Indie about Henry and his wives, but I think she was more interested in her map haha.
I didn't get any pictures of our lunch but it was pretty yummy. We ended up in the Moat Restaurant as we wanted a hot meal, and needed a highchair for Parker. The food was very expensive (£10 for fish and chips) but it was good quality, and the restaurant itself had a lovely vibe! I love how it had a kiddy meal packs too - you could choose up to 5 items for £5, so you could decide how healthy or unhealthy you want the meal to be. The HUGE downside was the fact there was only baby change in the girls toilets... sort it out Hever!
Edit: I've since spoken to Hever and they've given me the fab news that the Moat Restaurant is getting a refurb soon, and will re-open with baby changing in every toilet on the 16th May! Fantastic news!
There is more than one maze in the grounds to explore. Like I said above the water maze isn't open until the Spring Season, but Jack and Indie did venture into the Yew Maze. They were in there AGES as apparently they got stuck. I think Jack left all the directions up to Indiana though, which explains a lot haha.
Although we were out for nearly the whole day we managed to miss loads of things. We walked past the lake on our way in but didn't go over properly. In the summer you can go boating on the lake, and there's archery and jousting which sounds pretty cool.
We did manage to make a trip to the adventure playground though of course which is fantastic. It's actually the second thing I remember the most from my childhood. There's a huge wooden castle type area for older children, as well as some smaller bits for the little ones. Parker was in hysterics on the swings which was so sweet, and Indie loved having her baby brother playing next to her.
It was an absolutely fantastic day out, and I'm SO glad we won tickets. We are definitely considering going back, although individual prices are pretty high which is putting us off. I'm dreading the day we have to start paying for a family ticket haha.