Price: Adult £9, Child £6, Family £28
The Bentley Estate lies tucked away in a picturesque corner of the Sussex countryside. A place you would never ‘stumble across’ but must seek out. The site incorporates a motor museum, miniature railway, wildfowl reserve, beautiful house, play area, ancient woodlands and a tearoom. I recently took my children Daisy (7) and Logan (20 months) to visit Bentley during our Easter holidays and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience so I wanted to share the details here so more of you can become aware just what Bentley has to offer.
One of the most appealing aspects of Bentley is that the whole site feels spacious and uncrowded. This meant that our day felt incredibly chilled and slow paced. On entering through the gift shop, the play area off to the right immediately caught the eye of the children. This is entered through a pretty willow tunnel which leads to a play house, balance trail, swings and slide. There were only a couple of other families here at the time which meant the children were able to enjoy the facilities at their leisure.
As fun as the play area is…there’s another hugely enticing activity just a stone’s throw away …the amazing Bentley Miniature Railway! The Miniature railway is always one of the highlights of any visit to Bentley… with a 1 mile long track and trains powered by a variety of forms, steam, petrol, diesel and electric. The railway is operated entirely by a team of extremely enthusiastic and passionate volunteers. The station looks and feels like a traditional vintage railway station and the track is extensive running alongside the beautiful Glyndebourne woods. It’s definitely one of the best miniature railways I’ve been on…and with 4 kids I can compare it to quite a few! Please note that the train ride costs an additional £1 per person, under 2’s ride for free.
Walking back towards the Mansion we explore the grounds some more en route to the wildfowl area. The Mansion was closed on our visit but there are gardens and pretty flowered areas to explore in the immediate surrounding area. There are well appointed signs leading to the wildfowl area which is a short walk further on from the Mansion.
The Wildfowl Reserve is home to over 2000 birds and 130 species from around the world. The gated area provides a pleasant area to walk through and explore the wide variety of birds. On our recent visit we were lucky enough to see a number of very cute ducklings paddling about after their parents. The children were fascinated with the birds…many of which they’d never seen before including Indian Runner Ducks, Spectacled Eider Duck and Wandering Whistling Duck.
We enjoyed a really relaxed picnic on the grass near the Mansion…relishing the open space and warm weather. There is a very good tea room on site which is open from 10am-5pm daily providing a range of breakfasts, lunches and teas.
Our final port of call for the day was the motor museum, a unique collection of cars, motorcycles and vehicles which span over 100 years of transport history. I’ve got to admit motor museums are not my cup of tea on the whole but Bentley has an interesting collection of vintage and retro vehicles which appealed to me aesthetically….especially the vintage fire engine. Logan, on the other hand, was in little boy heaven. He’s only just started talking but most of his language is vehicle related so he had a field day labelling wheels, cars, bikes and new-naws!
Bentley is a wonderful place to enjoy and explore with the family. In addition to the attractions I’ve mentioned there is also a craft shop (I wasn’t risking taking the toddler in there!) and the Glyndebourne Woods where you can discover ancient houses on a woodland walk. We spent 3 hours at Bentley and were busy from start to finish. A wonderful venue for a laid back day in a beautiful location.
Please check the Bentley website for up to date opening times. Please note dogs are not admitted to the site due to the wild birds and other livestock.