Cotswold Wildlife Park: where garden design meets rhinos

Over the half term week we had a holiday – of sorts – down in Somerset.

Clanville Manor
The sproglet is rushing ahead to open the door and let us in to our holiday cottage

I say “of sorts” as the kids were both a little bit grouchy and clingy for much of the week and I returned home feeling somewhat exhausted.

We were staying in a wonderful, atmospheric holiday cottage with a huge, child-friendly garden (The Tallet at Clanville Manor, above, for anyone interested – not sponsored, just a genuinely lovely place). But the sproglets always take a little while to adjust to new surroundings and we really spent far too much time driving around in the car and trying to squeeze in naps ad hoc for their liking.

One of these days, I’m sure, we’ll crack that magic family holiday formula of doing just enough of the things to keep them happy and just enough of the (interesting) things to keep us happy…

Anyway, apart from the clinginess, we had a great time. As well as catching up with family and friends, we took a couple of day trips.

The first was to Cotswold Wildlife Park and, my goodness, if you are ever in the area I urge you to go, go, go!

Cotswold Wildlife Park
Oh yeah, that’s a rhino wandering across the front lawn
Cotswold Wildlife Park
The manor house

If you were to draw a Venn diagram of the interests of this family, then I think this place would sit firmly in the centre of it.

Loads of animals: tick. Beautiful planting and gardens: tick. A gigantic playground: tick. A stunning old manor house hosting brass rubbing: tick. An orangery where you can eat your lunch: tick. A miniature train: tick.

The layout of the place is fabulously quirky; lots of the animal enclosures bordered only by electric wires rather than solid fences. So it is that the rhinos appear to be simply grazing on the front lawn, surrounded by huge flower beds stuffed full of alliums.

Bedding at Cotswold Wildlife Park
I’m not usually a fan of bedding, but who can resist this riot of colour?
Tropical planting at Cotswold Wildlife Park
Yes, this really is in England…
Meerkat at Cotswold Wildlife Park
Strange little things…

In the walled garden, tropical planting was enjoying the microclimate, alongside some meerkats and the sloth enclosure. (And if you’re anything like me, the combination of the words “walled garden” and “sloth enclosure” would be enough to have you jumping into the car before finishing reading this paragraph, ha ha. But wait, wait, there’s more!)

Particular favourites of ours were the giraffes (such incredible, yet elegant creatures), some fabulously grumpy looking camels, their winter coats just starting to hang off them, and this lovely red panda hiding at the top of a tree…

Red panda at Cotswold Wildlife Park
Shy? Me?

We were only there for three hours or so in the morning, on the way down between Oxfordshire and Somerset, but we all wished we could have stayed the whole day. I think we may well be making a return trip as a treat for the sproglet’s birthday this summer…

Part two of our hol, featuring the wonderful Bishops Palace gardens in Wells, later in the week.

PS, Please excuse the slightly crappy nature of the photos. As you can see, it was a rather gloomy day and the light wasn’t great for taking pictures. But it was such a brilliant place, I just had to tell you all about it anyway…

13 thoughts on “Cotswold Wildlife Park: where garden design meets rhinos

  1. It’s a lovely place isn’t it. We’ve been for my middle boy’s birthday in February two or three times, it’s great to see it in summer. I realised when I saw your pictures that I’d only ever seen it in winter. Did you go and see the ancient street in Wells? Well worth a visit. It’s also a beautiful place. It sounds like you had a good trip, although I know what you mean about getting home exhausted. I often feel that I need a holiday to get over a holiday. I hope you’ve recovered a bit now. CJ xx

  2. I remember that taking ages to adjust thing when mine were a bit smaller, it whittles down to a day to adjust and now they are almost ready to go as soon as they land somewhere new. I love that rhino pic, it made me smile a lot! Looks like somewhere my two would love.

  3. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see a rhino walking across the front lawn! I do like places that keep an eye on the gardens as well as the main attractions.

  4. Haha, a rhino wandering across a lawn is something you don’t see every day! 🙂 Fantastic little cottage, looks like a cosy place to spend a few days relaxing. I could do with some of that at the moment…

  5. I used to love just down the road from the Cotswold Wildlife Centre and as a child I would cycle there and sneak in through the back gate without paying! I loved everything about it so would go as often as I could. I don’t know if they ever realised how I was getting in but years later when I went back with the boys, the back gate was no longer accessible to wayward children or otherwise!

  6. Oh wow, it looks great there! We recently visited Longleat Safari Park which is quite similar in that it has a large manor house, train etc. My son loves it there so I know he’d love to visit the Cotswold Wildlife park too – maybe one day! #animaltales

  7. I took the kids there often when we lived near Oxford in the eighties. I remember the red panda – wonder whether it is the same one?I love your photo. Did you see the capybaras? Great place!
    Pauline (who now lives in Rutland)

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