I have fond memories of visiting the Isle of Wight as a child and loved taking the kids over earlier this year to visit Blackgang Chine.
I vowed to go back and see more of the island and last week we headed back across the Solent to visit Robin Hill Country Park, aboard a Wightlink Ferry from Portsmouth.
The last time we went to the Isle of Wight we sailed from Lymington, which is an hour long crossing to Yarmouth. The Portsmouth crossing sails from the city centre and you board the ferry in the shadow of the Spinakker Tower, sail past the Solent Forts and dock 45 minutes later in Fishbourne.
I have to admit I had not heard of Robin Hill before but upon investigation I discovered that it is an award-winning park that is set in 88 acres of beautiful countryside and forest, just 10 minutes drive from Fishbourne. The award-winning park offers a great mix of rides and adventure play for fun-loving families and children alongside relaxing woodland gardens, ponds and sculpture walks. In fact, the tricky bit is deciding which way to go first.
We started our adventures on the treetop trail which is a series of wooden and rope bridges for the kids to negotiate. Isaac and Eliza loved it and were racing around but Sebby got a bit stuck so Daddy had to go up and rescue him.
We then headed down to the canopy skywalk which stands 10 metres above the ground and is home to the Squirrel Tower and Squirrel Run.
The Squirrel Run is a spiralling mesh tube that is suspended around the canopy skywalk that the kids can crawl or shuffle through. Isaac and Eliza loved scrambling through it although I did see a few adventurers change their minds as it is quite scary being suspended over the ground.
Underneath the Canopy Skywalk is the Squirrel Tower which is a challenging climb back up to the skywalk using a series of rope challenges, as you climb 8 metres into the air. I think my kids must have been squirrels in a previous incarnation as they were racing each other around it!
Once we finally managed to tear them away we headed down the hill to the construction site which is home to several wooden construction vehicles, perfect for role-play.
Over half term and through the summer holidays, Robin Hill is hosting the Squawk Olympics which is an exciting daily programme of games and activities including an inflatable obstacle course, hopper races and zorb football.
Eliza and Isaac need no encouragement to compete against each other and could not wait to try their hand at the activities.
The only one they didn’t do was the zorb football as the match had just got underway when we arrived.
Also in this part of the park is the Troll ponds which you can cross on the rickety bridges – if you dare, the hill billy slides and a fabulous toboggan track to race down.
By now we were getting hungry so we headed off in search of something to eat. There are plenty of picnic areas as well as four places to eat which each serve a variety of hot and cold food. We plumped for the African Refreshments and Barbecue and enjoyed hot dogs and burgers whilst sat amongst a large play area that styled on an African safari.
There is a zebra slide, giraffe coloured swings, a large wooden play frame and model animals dotted throughout the area.
Also at Robin Hill is a Falconry area where they display birds at various times of the day. For a small donation to charity you get the opportunity to hold the bird of your choice, or you can just kick back and watch one of the wonderful displays.
Displays include Harris hawks flying over low over the audience, the beautiful peregrine falcon performing its swoops and dives right in front of you and interesting facts about all the birds from Charlie, the enigmatic falconer who is the youngest qualified falconer on the Isle of Wight.
Sebby wasn’t sure about having birds flying so close to his head, so headed off with Eliza to the park beside the showground to play whilst we watched the birds.
For kids enjoy thrills and spills, Robin Hill also has a couple of rides including the Colussus Swinging Galleon, the Toboggan Run and the 4D Motion Cinema to enjoy.
For little ones there is the Cows Express which is a fun train that is surrounded by cows in costume, accompanied by music to match their costumes as you ride past.
It was the Duck Down Play Village that really caught their imaginations as it comes complete with real houses and buildings, but at a fraction of the real size. There’s a thatched cottage, a school, a sweetshop and even a pub (well, a pretend one!) that the kids adored. It was the school-house where they had the most fun, led by a pint size teacher who was throwing questions at all of them.
There is so much to do at Robin Hill that you need a full day to explore everything it has to offer. You can also try to lift a ton weight with the help of a pulley system which needed Eliza’s full weight behind it to get it off the ground.
You can also take part in your own game of tug ‘o’ war!
I am not sure we found every nook and cranny to Robin Hill but we had fun trying and would certainly recommend visiting if you are on the Isle of Wight.
A family saver ticket to Robin Hill costs from £58 (off-peak) or £72 (peak) or for a bigger saving you can buy combined tickets for Blackgang Chine and Robin Hill for £128 (off-peak) or £148 (peak).
Disclaimer: We were guests of Robin Hill for the purpose of a review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.