We visited Wildwood Escot near Honiton (around 20 minutes away from Halsbeer Farm and Blackdown Yurts) on a sunny May Saturday with friends. It was really peaceful when we visited. There were other people there but it didn’t feel busy. Don’t go expecting a really polished theme park, as that’s not what it’s about. Their aim is to re-wild Britain by working towards re-introducing animals such as wolves that used to live here before humans hunted them out, but also to re-wild our children (and probably us too) by allowing them to connect with wildlife, woodland and Britain’s Saxon past in a relaxed, real and raw setting. We found it charming and unpretentious.
On entering Wildwood, you go through the walled garden which is reminiscent of images of the Lost Gardens of Heligan before it was restored. A tumbledown greenhouse and a trampoline had a stunning backdrop in the form of an enormous rhododendron. We passed the otter enclosure, where they were happily swimming in their pool, and made a bee-line to the bird of prey display area where we witnessed a couple of young birds in training and a lanner falcon flying to a lure.
After the flying display we ventured into the woods to explore, searching for (but sadly not spotting) the wildcats. Escot is full of trees, some of them very impressive indeed. It’s a great place to find shade on a sunny day and presumably also to shelter from rain showers under the leafy canopy if the weather is poor. The kids in particular liked the impressive “fallen tree” that they climbed all over!
Escot prides itself in having native British wildlife including wolves, lynx, red squirrels and more. There is something very primeval and haunting about watching wolves basking in dappled sunlight, you can’t help but feel a bit uneasy when their steady, magestic gaze rests on you for a moment. The wild boar were evidently as happy as pigs in a mudbath can be!
Dotted about among the trees and the wildlife enclosures are various play areas that the children enjoyed. The dropslide tantalised with the promise of exhilaration – getting over the urge not to let go proved tricky for some but they did it in the end. A new attraction this year is a zip wire and climbing wall near the cleverly-designed maze (where we got hopelessly lost – an overhead shot on their website shows just how beautiful and intricate the design is). There is also an indoor soft play barn but we didn’t go in as the weather was good.
We all adored the sun-dappled Saxon village area which has demonstrations of different dwellings, a fire pit, and chickens pecking around your feet. We locked Felix in the stocks but luckily we let him out again otherwise he may have been abducted by vikings. There are often guided activities to have a go at in the Saxon village and there were displays of animal pelts, grinding stones and a couple of thrones to play at being a Saxon princess. During May half term they will also be running pond-dipping and mini-beast sessions and have an otter trail with prize. Check their website for further details.
Wildwood Escot was a lovely place to spend a few hours and we would definitely recommend it if you enjoy watching wildlife and exploring intriguing places.
Visit http://www.wildwoodescot.org for more information including gorgeous videos of their wolves.
We had lunch first in the Coach House Cafe. The adults all had a generous tuna melt panini with chips and salad and the kids had little lunch boxes. All was very well prepared and delicious.
Note that you can’t take dogs into the wildlife park itself, but you can take them in the wetland area opposite. There is also a house which is used as a wedding and conference venue.
Adult entry (with donation) is £9.50, child and senior entry £8 and a family ticket is £33.