The Boggles and Twiggles down at the brand new Bewilderwood Cheshire threw open the wibbly wobbly gates to their ‘Curious Treehouse Adventure’ for the first time this week, and we were there!! Find out how we got on, what we thought, and what you can expect when you bag some tickets (they’re selling fast), below!!
In terms of social distancing and covid measures, BeWILDerwood is a huge outdoor venue, so social distancing isn’t a problem – if one area is busy and you don’t feel comfortable, just move onto another and come back to the original when its quieter. There’s hand sanitiser everywhere and the organised activities, such as crafts and storytelling, are number controlled. We’re told that the Park was at full ‘Covid Capacity’ on Monday and at no point did it feel overly busy. For BeWILDerwood’s full covid policy, click here.
We’d initially intended to take all three Mini Mumblers with us but decided at the last minute to leave Baby Mumbler with Nanna so we could get properly stuck in with the older ones (we’d heard that grown ups have just as much fun as kids whizzing down the slides and navigating the tree top bridges!) – so we went along with just the older 2 (aged 3 and 4). Don’t worry though, Baby Mumbler was over the moon to have Nanna and her garden all to himself for a change, so it was a win-win!!
The 4 year old was able to do everything (and did, with gusto!), and the 3 year old could do everything save for the zip wires – they’re quite high off the ground and given his propensity to break a bone at any given opportunity, we thought it best to steer him clear. Luckily, BeWILDerwood had popped a couple of baby zip wires next to the main ones (anticipating the sort of meltdown Middle Mumbler was having, perhaps?!) and he was easily lured into one of the harnesses to hurtle down the wire with other littles.
I’ll deal with the burning question posed by many Mumblers whilst we’re here – what age is BeWILDerwood suitable for? I’d say, pretty much any age!! (Disclaimer – I don’t have teenagers so can’t comment on them, but grown ups are actively encouraged to get involved). There are a couple of areas dedicated to toddlers – Toddlewood on the Hill and Tiptoe Valley – which have miniature versions of the BeWILDerwood adventures, so families with little ones can concentrate on those. Actually though, Baby Mumbler could probably have joined in with quite a lot of what we did with the older 2. The slides (which are EPIC as I’ll explain below) would have been a no-no, but the maze, broken bridge and Twiggle Village, for example, would have been ok had we gone with him to hold his hand and prevent him throwing himself off the top. There’s no way he could have navigated them himself like the older 2 did, but with a helping hand parts of it would have been fine (albeit verrrrry slow).
My 4 year old had the time of her life – an out and out daredevil, nothing daunted her and she scaled, slid and swung her way around the entire park. The 3 year old is far more cautious (like his mama!), so some of the bigger slides and taller bridges made him nervous, but I think thats a temperament as opposed to an age thing – I saw 10 year olds change their mind as they reached the top of the slides, and 4 year olds (like Mini Mumbler) reach the bottom and scream AGAIN!!! the minute they hit the floor (at speed). There were kids of all ages having a ball, often alongside their grown ups, so they’ve got pretty much any age covered!
NB – There are some things in the park that require longer arms and legs (like the extra-long zip wires) so some little ones may not be able to have a go at everything, depending on their height.
So, what is there to do at BeWILDerwood? Firstly it’s the perfect antidote to a manic, bright, plastic and flashing lights filled theme park. Not that there’s anything wrong with a theme park – we love them for a family day out- but BeWILDerwood is a perfect contrast. It’s outdoors, you’re surrounded by nature and the activities are rustic, simple and just good, honest fun. Think treehouses, slides, giant swings, mazes, zip wires, rickety bridges, den building. craft tents and storytelling. Even the gift shop is pleasantly lacking in plastic!! It’s a really great way to get the kids to appreciate the great outdoors in a super fun, exciting way.
So, to the SLIDES! Our little girl would have spent all day zipping up and down them had we let her, and we had to bribe her with promises of more slides each time we wanted to move on. Luckily for us, there are slides everywhere! Not just bog standard, park type slides either – some of these bad boys are HIGH, STEEP and very, very FAST. There are gentler ones for the less daring, as well as extra wide ones for you to try as a family. Boggles and Twiggles (i,e, staff!) are stationed at the top of most of them helping the kids (and you!) get into position safely.
Our less daring Middle Mumbler loved the play areas – think wooden stumps with ropes overhead to swing between, logs to balance on and teeter along and huge swings to share. They both loved navigating the ‘Mish Mash Maze’ and tearing through the ‘Twiggle Village’ (which has tree houses dotted between wooden walkways and rickety bridges).
The craft tent offers a welcome break from the active fun and we spent a lovely 20 minutes or so decorating crowns which the Minis then spent all day proudly wearing. There are limits on the numbers in each tent so there was a short wait, but the Twiggle manning the entrance chatted happily away to the little ones so they were thoroughly entertained whilst we waited. There’s also a storytelling area which has 4 sessions a day – get there early though as we headed over about 5 minutes before the start (we got lost in the maze for a little longer than anticipated!) and were too late as it was full. Something for next time!!
All in all, BeWILDerwood is a fantastic addition to Cheshire – we spent around 5 hours there and could have easily stayed longer had we not needed to get back for Baby Mumbler. Whilst it isn’t cheap (admission is based on height -under 92cm free; 92–105cm £17.50; over 105cm £19.50; over 65’s £12.50), it’s very reasonable for a full family day out, particularly since everything is included (all the activities, crafts, storytelling, parking etc). We’re delighted to have it on our doorstep (ok, an hour away), and can’t wait to go back in the Summer!!
Mumbler’s Top Tips
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. The park is pretty big and you’ll be on your feet and walking pretty much all day, so it’s definitely comfort over style!
The activities are all physical so the kids will be starving by lunchtime (you can buy food there, or take a picnic like we did) and they’ll be absolutely shattered by the end of the day, so probably best not to make plans for that evening!
The storytelling sessions are limited in number and get full fairly quick so don’t miss out like we did, and get there early to bag your place.
There’s virtually no shelter – we were lucky and the sun shone but if its wet there’s nowhere to hide so mitigate with appropriate clothing, shoes (wellies), rain covers etc.
Breast-feeding Mamas who want a little peace whilst feeding can head to the Nook (situated next to the Craft Tents) – a little hut especially for mamas to feed their little ones.
There are baby changing tables in the disabled toilets, and all toilet areas have a disabled toilet.
There are a couple of places to buy food (packed lunches, hotdogs etc) as well as ice cream counters. We took a picnic but the food looked good, and wasn’t too pricey – a ‘Munch Box’ for the kids is £4.95 and includes sandwich, crisps, sweet treat, raisins and juice, and a jacket potato will set you back £2.70. There aren’t that many picnic benches/places to sit and eat, but there is plenty of grass so it might be a good idea to take a blanket to sit on. You’ll queue for food but its not horrendous – I waited around 20 minutes to get some ice creams and drinks. In fact, there was a distinct lack of queuing pretty much all around the Park (Nb – we arrived a little later, at around 11 and didn’t have to queue to get in at all but I’m told that there were queues earlier).
There’s a huge car park with Marshalls navigating you to a space, so parking is easy even for those less talented in that arena (like myself!)
For those wanting to take Public transport – the nearest train station is Whitchurch then it’s a taxi ride away – you can find more info about planning your journey, local taxi numbers etc, here.