What?: Ok so the Knebworth dinosaurs are much less creepy than Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’ Crystal Palace ones, which is really good news because they scare me a lot. Knebworth’s are also more anatomically correct, what with being much newer. Plus there are 72 of them, which properly shits on CP Park’s 30-odd – and most of those aren’t even technically dinosaurs. So, you get the picture. Knebworth wins at dinosaurs. Actually I was kind of expecting 72 dinosaurs to feel much more overwhelming than it did, and imagined literally trailing around all day trying to find them all. Thankfully though they’ve been arranged in a smallish enclosure, almost like a dinosaur zoo, which makes it pretty hard to miss any and also pretty hard to lose any small children you might have with you, which could be a plus or a minus depending on how you look at it.
We probably spent about 45 minutes on the trail, although this was immediately post-lockdown and we might have lingered longer had we not only had a three-hour slot/been keen to get the hell away from people when things got a bit busy (they let waaay too many people in, which was annoying). So, aside from 72 life-size models, what does Hertfordshire’s answer to Jurassic Park actually offer? Well – apart from each dinosaur coming with its own information board and the weird wind-up dinosaur-noise thing that everyone was queuing for but was actually a bit crap – once you’ve seen the dinosaurs you’ve kind of seen the the dinosaurs.
Luckily though you didn’t just come for the dinosaurs, and now you get to spend the remainder of your visit exploring the ridiculously massive playground. Not the best playground in the world I might add, and the randomness of all the bits – the wooden Fort Knebworth adventure playground accompanied by such jumbled delights as the toadstool houses, the sack slide, and the swings seemingly held up by an oversized gnome/monkey duo – was displeasing, although after three months without so much as a generic local swings-and-a-slide situation it seemed positively spectacular. And to be fair it is pretty cool, and absolutely worth the trek up to Stevenage for. We were in heaven all day to be honest, although I still really regret not visiting the pet cemetery. Next time.
Where and When?: Knebworth House is open daily until 6th September and on weekends from 12th September. Opening times are currently 11am-5pm and tickets are valid for a full day at the park and adventure playground, with three-hour slots for the gardens and dinosaur trail. Knebworth House can be found on Old Knebworth Lane, SG1 2AX, and its nearest station is Stevenage.
Best Bits: I can’t decide which was better: the dinosaur trail or the playground.
Worst Bits: The playground is like a 15/20 minute walk from the dinosaur trail, but it’s a minor point and they each have their own car park.
Facilities: Step-free access, baby changing, on-site cafe.
Cost: £10 each for everyone aged 3 and over, or £14 each to visit the house too (we didn’t).
Would We Come Back?: Definitely. I need to see that pet cemetery.
Babu and Sprog explore the dinosaur trail at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire.