Pensthorpe National Park

Pensthorpe National Park

North Norfolk is home to a variety of flora and fauna which are easily seen at the numerous nature reserves that are dotted throughout the region. Providing a beautiful and peaceful place to relax and an educational environment, nature reserves make a great day out for the whole family with many even containing play areas and cafés. 

One of our favourite places to visit is Pensthorpe National Park. Just a short drive from our luxury North Norfolk holiday cottages, Pensthorpe is located just outside of Fakenham and provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life into nature. If you would like more information about our holiday cottages, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.

About Pensthorpe

This 700 acre family friendly nature reserve is the perfect destination for exploring, discovery and relaxing. There are five beautiful landscaped gardens, multiple walks through the reserve and indoor and outdoor play areas for children. But that’s not all, there is also a sculpture trail inspired by nature that helps to keep children engaged throughout the walks all of which have been created by local artists. We recommend picking up a park guide and looking high and low to tick off all of the sculptures. Pensthorpe has been featured on BBC’s Springwatch due to the diverse wildlife that call the area home and the conservation efforts that are undertaken. The wetland discovery and play areas help to encourage children and young families to the reserve to learn about nature, sustainability and inspire a new generation.

What to see and do at Pensthorpe

The nature reserve is teaming with wildlife, so much so you might need to come back again to see everything. There are seven family friendly bird hides located across the nature reserves which allow you to see seasonal migrant and resident birds in their natural habitat. The Wader Scrape is the best place to spot breeding waders, waterfowl and birds of prey and is where the Springwatch filming often took place. There is also the traditionally managed wildflower meadow which has a trail and allows you to see dragonflies, butterflies and damselflies as well as over 80 different species of flower. If you get a little tired of walking or you would like to explore the hidden corners of the Estate the Pensthorpe Explorer tours will take you off road to show you areas inaccessible by foot and learn more about the conservation projects and farming practices that occur throughout the reserve.

The main attraction at Pensthorpe is the nature reserve, however there is plenty more to see and do. The discovery centre is a free museum on site that contains fossils and bones, including the mammoth tusk which was famously uncovered at Pensthorpe.

For the younger children you have a choice of two play areas. WildRootz is an outdoor eco-friendly play area containing zip lines, slides and tunnels as well as a small stream to help cool off on hot days. Hootz House is the indoor play area with rope bridges, slides and towers perfect for damper days. The wetland discovery area is also perfect for children as it has child-friendly pond dipping activities and a flock of resident flamingos which is a great way to introduce children to nature.

If you are thinking of visiting during April and May, we highly recommend exploring the woodland to visit the bluebells which cover the area in a vibrant blanket during this time.

Pensthorpe National Park
Pensthorpe National Park

Navigating the reserve

The reserve is primarily outdoors, with a mixture of walkways and uneven ground. The five gardens are wheelchair accessible and disabled parking is available as well as mobility scooter hire. We highly recommend downloading or picking up a park map on arrival so that you don’t miss a thing, as there is so much to see and do.

Food and drink

The Courtyard Café is available on site and you don’t even need a park ticket to enter. They cater for all dietary requirements and serve food throughout the day including cooked breakfasts, ice creams and afternoon teas. However, you are welcome to bring your own picnic to the reserve, just be mindful of taking your rubbish and not feeding the wildlife.


To visit Pensthorpe you do not need to book tickets in advance but tickets are required for entry. If you are wanting to visit just the play areas, you can also purchase a play only ticket. The park opens between 10-5 between July and October and 10-4 between November and January. To find out more about ticket prices take a look here.

Pensthorpe National Park
Pensthorpe National Park

What species can you see at Pensthorpe?

Depending on the time of year you are visiting you might be able to see:

  • Canada Geese
  • Mute Swans 
  • Wigeons
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Cetti’s Warbler
  • Willow Warbler
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Kingfisher
  • Treecreeper
  • Song Thrush
  • Spotted Flycatcher
  • Red crowned cranes
  • Fieldfare
  • Cuckoos
  • Grey Squirrel
  • Rabbit
  • Reeve’s Muntjac
  • Willow Emerald Damselfly
  • Blue-tailed Damselfly

For those particularly interested in birdwatching you can find out more information about birdwatching in the area and the species you might find here.

With a wide range of activities and things to do, a trip to Pensthorpe if you are in the area is not to be missed. Dogs are not allowed in the play areas, reserves or gardens to protect the welfare and wellbeing of the various bird and animal species so be mindful of this if you are holidaying with your four-legged friends. At the Kelling Estate our holiday cottages are dog friendly, please get in touch if you would like anymore information about our properties. 

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