A Family Outing to Rainham Marshes with Twin Toddlers
Yesterday my husband and I packed the twins up into the car and went to visit Rainham Marshes in Essex. We had previously visited about three years ago, the day after we got married, and were keen to return with our children!
So, how was it with children?
All in all, we had a lovely day out, but there are definitely a few things to note if you’re planning a trip with small children…
Firstly, like most nature reserves and bird sanctuaries, you need to plan your toilet trips carefully! There are some loos underneath the visitor centre on arrival, but you’ll need to make sure you go before you actually pay and go through the reserve. There doesn’t seem to be a lift from the ground floor to the main entrance on the first floor, just a big ramp, so it’s quite annoying if you pay for your entry, and then have to come all the way back down the ramp outside to go to the toilet! Once inside the reserve there is a little toilet block in an old shipping container half way around, but we found that the lights didn’t work and although there was a ramp for access, it was incredibly muddy. None of this really phased us as we were wearing sturdy footwear and have an off-road buggy for the twins, but it’s definitely worth noting and planning ahead!
Entry is £6 for adults and free for under 3 year olds, although you’ll get in for free if you’re a RSPB member! The reserve is easy to find when typed into a satnav, and fairly well signposted. Once you arrive, you’ll be able to see London in the distance, and the Thames right at your feet – it’s pretty cool!
Walking the trail around the reserve was lovely, and even on a chilly January day there were hundreds of different birds to be seen and some great hides to stop and watch. Information plaques were dotted around that told us all about the different birds and other wildlife we might see. On arrival, the RSPB staff told us that the circuit was a two and a bit mile walk, but there are lots of little offshoots to explore as well, and plenty to see and do over the course of a day. We passed lots of serious bird watchers on our way round, so tried to make sure we only let the toddlers roam free when we were well away from them – we didn’t want to disturb them or the birds they were watching!
The paths were a little narrow in places but were generally well kept so we didn’t have any trouble pushing the double buggy round. Some of the circuit is made of smart, over-water walkways, where we let the twins out to stretch their legs. Although the walkways are quite wide, there are no sides or railings, so children need to be very closely supervised here to stop them from falling into the marsh!
Aside from the circular walk around the reserve, there is also a great adventure playground. My twins are two, and there was plenty for them to explore, climb, and play on! I was particularly impressed with the different climbing walls on offer – as someone who used to go bouldering weekly pre-children, I couldn’t resist having a little climb myself. There were so many different things to climb that there’s something suitable for kids (and adults) of all ages!
If you’re local to Kent, Essex, or Suffolk then I would definitely recommend a family trip to Rainham Marshes to spot some wildlife, stretch your legs, and play on the awesome adventure playground!