Escot Park – Review for families

Explore 220 acres of family fun at Escot Park in East Devon

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What is it?

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It’s a stunning 220 acre parkland with lots of family-friendly recreational activities on offer. Find it in the town of Ottery St Mary in East Devon, which is 10 miles east from Exeter. The Sat Nav postcode is EX11 1LU.

Best for:

5 – 8  / 9 – 12 / 12+

OK for:

Babies / Toddlers & Preschool 

Cost

££ – Adult tickets are £9.50 and child tickets are £8. Children under 3 go free and a family day ticket is £33.50 for 2 adults and 2 children, with £7.50 extra per additional child. However, entrance to certain areas of Escot Park, like the Wetlands, Red Squirrel enclosure and the Coach House restaurant are free.

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What’s on offer

Despite being a (rather impressive) family home for more than 200 years, Escot is now a recreational park with a particular interest in catering to families. Aside from the walking trails through the beautiful parks, the family of otters, owls, boars and beavers you can see living amongst nature and witnessing ‘the champion trees’- there are plenty of things to do.

Nature lovers and small children will be super excited to explore the walkthrough Red Squirrel Enclosure, where families can get up close and personal with the rare creatures and listen to talks about the dying species. Any budding Sherlock Holmes types will love letterboxing around the park, following the clues provided by staff for a small fee and trying to navigate their way out of the huge, complicated maze. Thrill seekers will enjoy the Forest leap drop slide made purely out of timber and will surely get a kick out of running around the all weather play barn on site.

More unusual offerings include twice daily displays from the Devon Birds & Prey Centre, where falconry displays and bird handling sessions show off the birds’ natural talents. Children who want to get more involved in Escot can become a mini-ranger for one day for an extra fee and if they love it so much they can’t bear to go home, they can join the Camp Wild programme and stay there up to 4 nights. There are usually great school holiday activities, which are subject to change. Check the website for full information about what’s on and when.

On site, there is a restaurant, gift shop and toilets, including accessible toilets for disabled visitors. There’s lots of room to sit down and enjoy a picnic. There’s free parking and on site parking.

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Highlights

It’s not overly commercialized like a lot of attractions – which parents on TripAdvisor seem to love about it. If it’s available during you visit, the Saxon Village is one of the best parts of the day, along with the birds of prey talks, the squirrel enclosure and meeting the otters. The maze and letterbox trails are also well-respected, as they’re both quite tricky to complete!

What to watch out for

– The park is home to an enclosure of wild boars. These boars are usually fine, but one TripAdvisor reviewer wrote that she was as horrified to see a baby boar being killed by an adult boar during her visit. If you’re uneasy about this unfortunate part of nature, ask a member of staff how to avoid the boar enclosure during your visit. Please note that this a very rare experience.

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times whilst inside the park.

– Dogs are not allowed in the restaurant or the Red Squirrel enclosure.

– Dog owners will be charge 50p to bring their dog to the park.

– There can be long waits in the restaurant during peak periods. This is because food is freshly prepared. Be patient and maybe bring some snacks for the kids.

– The maze can be tricky and may take up to an hour to solve (in fact, you may even have to ask how to get out).

– Children are to be supervised by an adult. The adult is fully responsible for their safety. 

– You cannot light a fire at Escot Park, no matter how appealing a campfire may seem.

– If your child gets lost, please show them and tell them to meet you at Bunny Meeting Point.

– You can’t smoke inside the park.

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MFM tips:

– If your child loves letterboxing, you may want to try out the trails at Buckland Abbey and Lundy Island in North Devon.

– If you’re staying in East Devon, why not visit the The Donkey SanctuarySeaton TramwayWorld of Country Life or Pecorama?

– The ‘try it first’ multipass offer could be a great way of saving money if you plan to visit more than once. A multipass will provide you and your family with entry at no extra cost for a whole year.  If you buy a multipass on the same day as visiting and paying the admission price, that will be taken off your total multipass price – it can’t hurt to try before you buy!

– Plan for more than 4 hours here.

What the owners say

“For all lovers of nature and the great outdoors, Escot is a unique experience and offers a great family day out. Set in 220 acres of stunning private parkland in the heart of East Devon, Escot is a refreshingly uncommercial, award-winning visitor attraction that you will want to return to again and again.

Home to the Kennaway family for over 200 years the Escot of today is setting new standards in recreation with its exciting open access red squirrel encounter where visitors can get up close to these adorable creatures, world-class maze, birds of prey displays, otters and wild boar, unique (and scary!) woodland drop slide, saxon village, indoor playbarn and woodland play areas. There’s an intriguing letterboxing trail to try and delicious home-cooked food in our Coach House Restaurant.”

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Visit the official Escot Park website

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