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“Declining attraction”
Review of Wildwood Escot

Wildwood Escot
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Wildwood Escot is known as the Natural Place for good reason. In the 220 acres of parkland, threatened native species such as the iconic red squirrel and the secretive water vole have found sanctuary in surroundings steeped in history and filled with beautiful plants and champion trees. Meet Wildwood Escot’s wolves, lynx, family of otters, stunning birds of prey and other amazing animals. There are woodlands to explore, wetlands to navigate, a maze to solve and so much more.
Reviewed May 7, 2013

I have visited Escot over quite a few years and have just been back after a gap of a couple of years. There used to be a pair of falconers who were keen, knowledgable and happy to spend time with the public. They've gone and been replaced by a distinctly perfunctory performance.The Sea Horse Trust used to have a splendid display here. That too has gone,as have tropical fish, a decent pet supply shop, and a gift shop.
The gardens looked tired, and overall the place seemed run down. The restaurant, however, still served decent food, but this alone did not compensate for everything else.
Escot seemed to be a shadow of its former self and it will probably be several years before I try it again.

3  Thank Geordie47186254
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RobinSavill, Manager at Wildwood Escot, responded to this reviewResponded May 14, 2013

Thank you for sending in your review. I am sorry to hear that your visit to Escot did not meet your expectations.

Our Falconers are new to us this year and have been working hard to get the birds used to their new surroundings. Whilst they have been doing so they have also been presenting twice daily displays and offering handling opportunities to our visitors. The feedback on our birds of prey displays this year has generally been very good. I am sorry that you do not agree.

Due to an increase in the Seahorse Trust’s commitments to conservation projects, both in the UK and abroad, it is no longer possible for them to display live seahorses here at Escot. The centre is therefore no longer open to the public. Whilst it is sad to see the seahorses go, it is very encouraging to hear that the Trust is involved in so many crucial projects around the world.

We no longer stock pet products or tropical fish but we do still sell pond fish, pond plants and products for use in the construction and maintenance of ponds and other water features. Our gift shop, located in the entrance kiosk, stocks a wide range of gifts, books, toys etc.

The gardens are beginning to catch up, following a difficult season last year and very cold spring this year. I am glad to read that you enjoyed visiting the Coach House Restaurant.

Rather than being in decline, Escot has undergone a shift in focus. We are concentrating on making the most of the natural and built environments that combine to provide the unique Escot experience. In recent years we have invested a great deal in projects such as the Red Squirrel Encounter, which has added great value to the visitor experience. The Victorian greenhouse in the walled garden, half-way through a phased restoration project, will also add another dimension to future visits by providing a magnificent backdrop to that area of the park.

Thank you for taking the time to send in your review and we look forward to welcoming you back to Escot in the future.

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316 - 320 of 354 reviews

Reviewed May 7, 2013

We spent half a day at Escot Park and thoroughly enjoyed it. The lovely grounds kept the kids entertained and the wonderful wild bird flying was really interactive and kept the kids enthralled. Would certaily recommend it and will be going again. The restaurant/cafe is small so I should imagine it will get busy in the summer so perhaps we'll take a picnic next time. Unfortunately the Red Squirrels were a no show, but there's not much you can do about that!! All in all and good day out if you have kids.

Thank Gupster34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RobinSavill, Manager at Wildwood Escot, responded to this reviewResponded May 14, 2013

Thank you so much for your lovely review; it is so nice to read that your family had such a great time. I am particularly pleased to hear that you enjoyed the birds of prey display.

The Coach House Restaurant does get busier in the summer but the restaurant team does a great job of providing everyone with outstanding service and excellent food – plus there’s lots for the kids to do in the courtyard whilst your food is being freshly prepared. There’s also our Snack Shack in the park, during the school holidays, if you prefer something to eat on the go.

The squirrels have featured quite a lot in reviews this spring! As the weather improves and (hopefully) stabilises their appearance should become a little more reliable.

Once again, thank you for your review and we hope to see you again soon.

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Reviewed May 1, 2013

Having read the various reviews I thought Escot may be worth a visit. I was most disappointed. I have visited about 60 Estate Houses/Gardens during the past three years and have not written an adverse review about any of them. This one however merits a 'poor' review.
We visited on 1st May - which was a beautiful sunny day.
1. The Birds of Prey display consisted of two birds flown for about 15 minutes - hardly a display?
2. Although there were few visitors the Restaurant still took 20 minutes to produce two Ploughman's. The food however was good and is why I have given a two star rating rather than a one.
3. The Maze is in a pitiful state - although this may be due to the difficult conditions during the winter.
4. The Yut Village was inaccessible!
5. Unluckily (?) we did not see the Red Squirrels.
6. The site is not wheelchair friendly.

Clearly, as far as Escot management is concerned we have not as yet entered the 'lucrative tourist season', and so staffing levels remain low. If that is the case then they should charge less.
I will not be returning and neither will I recommend it to others!

NB: No photos as there wasn't anything worth photographing.

4  Thank Desmond100
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RobinSavill, Manager at Wildwood Escot, responded to this reviewResponded May 14, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to send in your review. I am sorry to read that there were elements of your visit that did not meet your expectations.

Our Falconers are new to us this year and are still getting the birds accustomed to their new environment. During this time, as part of their training, the birds have been flown for shorter periods. Handling opportunities have been added to the end of the displays during this time to provide added interest.

We pride ourselves on the quality of the food that is offered in the Coach House Restaurant and maintain our high standards by only serving freshly made meals. The meals are prepared in the order that the food orders are received and a small wait is therefore to be expected.

Our highly acclaimed maze was made by planting 4,000 beech saplings. Beech is well-known for its habit of retaining its brown autumnal leaves until the new foliage is produced in the spring. Due to the very cold spring, the new leaves have been slow to emerge but rest assured the maze is still in first class condition.

Yurt Village was constructed as the base for Camp Wild, our exciting summer camp and is used almost continuously for the rest of the year by our busy residential schools programme. It is open to the public for special occasions such as our Christmas Treats Weekend and the forthcoming Camp Wild Experience Day, to be held on 31st May.

Once again, due to the cold spring, our red squirrels have not been out and about as much as usual.

Due to the nature of the Escot estate, there are areas that are not accessible to wheelchairs. Many areas are accessible, however, and suitable routes are marked on our park map, which is offered to all visitors.

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Reviewed April 29, 2013

Visited with our son, his wife & grandchildren aged 6 & 8 so it was quite an expensive few hours. The whole site looks as if it needs a lot of investment and maintenance to bring it up to date and also some areas are very tatty and broken down. We enjoyed the maze and the falconry display and we were also lucky to see the red squirrels being fed which was a great experiance for all of us.The web-site really makes the place look a lot more attractive than it really is and a pets corner with a few guinea pigs was a bit of a let down.Its a shame to see attractions in this sort of shape when the entrance fees are quite high and not many staff were visible.The potential to be a great attraction is there but its not there yet!

2  Thank Mrsheathershaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RobinSavill, Manager at Wildwood Escot, responded to this reviewResponded May 14, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review Escot on TripAdvisor. I am sorry to hear that you considered your visit to be expensive. We do our best to keep our admission charges at a reasonable level and in line with similar attractions.

I am glad that you enjoyed the maze and birds of prey and particularly pleased to hear that you got to see the red squirrels as the cold weather has made them reluctant to surface as much as usual this spring.

I regularly check our website to make sure that images and text are up-to-date and an accurate representation of Escot. Due to the very cold spring, things are a little behind in the park. However, a few more warm days will soon have Escot looking like the images on the website again.

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Reviewed April 15, 2013

We (family of four, children aged 6 and 8) visited on a very cold April day but managed to stay active enough to keep warm(ish)!

It is hard to know where to start with describing this place. Basically, if you have children who love nature, exploring, mazes, animals and natural play areas, then this is just the ticket. However, it is slightly more quirky than that and there are plenty of surprises!

The maze is large and quite difficult. As a family we are blessed with my husband's astute sense of direction otherwise I fear we would have been in there all day - but one of the fun bits is that throughout the maze are bridges you go over, from where you get a few clues about how you are meant to be proceeding!

The are are a few animals and birds to see, most notably the very chatty otters! I had no idea they all chattered so much! They are gorgeous and great fun. There are otter feeding talks but we didn't go to that as we have done that elsewhere, but I am sure that would have been fun. There are also Birds of Prey, and an accompanying display, but again, as Birds of Prey display veterans, we didn't see this as it was such a cold day anyway.

There are also several wooden play areas dotted throughout the woodland walk, some carefully constructed, and others made out of fallen trees that are great to clamber all over.

There is also the scariest drop slide I have ever seen, which is situated outside and is not for the faint-hearted! None of us attempted it but we had fun watching brave souls do it!

Other oddities include the 'Bottle Tree' - which has to be seen to be believed, and the surreal 'Termite Mound' which clearly took much time to plan and construct and must be totally unique. You have to see it to understand its oddness!

There is also the ubiquitous soft play area in a barn, which is actually the only indoor area, so you do need a good day to appreciate the full site. If it were not so cold we could easily have spent even longer pottering at Escot.

Available by the car park, and free, is a Red Squirrel area. Sadly we didn't get to see any, so we must have been there when they were all snuggled up somewhere trying to keep warm, but I see from other reviews that they do put in apprearances so we were unlucky. Next to that is a Wetlands area, also free.

You can also visit the Restaurant without paying to actually go in to Escot itself. We went on a Sunday and I got the impression that there were regulars eating there too as well as holidaymakers like us. As another reviewer pointed out, the plastic tableclothes with old-fashioned design could be updated, but this is a minor detail and as a whole we found the restaurant to be a very spacious and relaxing place to have lunch. We got a table in a sort of alcove by the window. For warmer days the outdoor area would also be good as there are games out there. Inside are lovely artworks on the wall for sale, by local artists. The staff were extremely friendly and efficient. I had the unusual dish of a 'walnut and mushroom burger', while my husband had a cheeseburger (that sounds boring, but he assures me it was very good quality meat and he was very happy)! Children chose sandwiches which were substantial and well-presented.

The only slight disappointment was that the Aquatic Centre, which is still advertised on their website, is now closed and is actually in complete disrepair, as we were looking forward to having a look at the fish. It would appear that this was a shop for fish and aquatic plants, but although you can still get into the courtyard, it is very sad as there are dead aquatic plants still in their water troughs, plus a few fish still swimming in deserted outdoor tanks - I hope they are in the process of being rehomed???? It gives the impression that that part of the business suddenly failed.

I do wonder how much money is being made, as the greenhouse in the park itself is off limits as it is so fragile; if it were renovated it would be a real asset. For now the peacocks have it as their hide-out! The peacocks are lovely and roam freely around.

I hope this has given a taster of the place; it is so hard to describe somewhere so unusual! If anybody reading this knows 'The Enchanted Forest' at Groombridge in Kent, this is along somewhat similar lines in its strangeness (a good strangeness)!

Definitely recommended.

Thank TwoDividedByZero
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
RobinSavill, General Manager at Wildwood Escot, responded to this reviewResponded May 8, 2013

Thank you very much for sending us such a great review. I am so glad that you all enjoyed your visit. It is nice to hear that you appreciate the quirkiness that is such an important part of the Escot experience.

I'm glad that you enjoyed your lunch at the Coach House Restaurant (like your husband, I too am a fan of Escot's fantastic cheeseburgers).

Our Aquatic Centre now focuses on the sale of pond fish and pond plants (as well as a range of other goods related to the construction and maintenance of ponds). The few fish that you saw on the day of your visit were being cared for and awaiting the arrival of lots more fish to keep them company. The fish have now arrived, as have this season's new pond plants which have been added to the ones already in stock. As it has been such a cold spring, last year's plants were slow to come out of dormancy and I think it must have been those that you refer to in your review.
I will be looking at the aquatics section of the website to make sure that we have updated it.

Our Victorian greenhouse is midway through its phased restoration, the first half having been completed last year. In common with all the buildings at Escot, and even the wall surrounding the walled garden, the greenhouse is listed. It is therefore important that it is restored correctly. We are very excited about seeing it finished in the not-too-distant future. I am not so sure, however, that the peacocks are quite as excited by the prospect of losing their hide-out!

Once again, thank you so much for your review. I have not been to "The Enchanted Forest" in Kent but I will put it on my list for a future visit.

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