Just a little outside of Maidstone Town Centre is a lovely park we found by accident last year.
Whatman Park is on the banks of the River Medway and is a true hidden gem tucked out-of-the-way and a lovely place for picnics and peace away from busy roads and noise.
There isn’t much parking(if any) and it is best accessed from the river – you can find more information here.
It has play areas for older children and younger children; a skate park, tree walk and toilets and an open-air arena that plays host to special events in the summer months.
On Saturday 27th May 2017 it was the Proms in the Park and having never been I decided to take William and see what was going on. Hubs was away, I was car-less and living not far from the banks of the River Medway a couple of miles away we decided to test the freshly spruced up river path and enjoy the sunshine.
It was a baking hot day and I had put my back out the day before so I was a little annoyed to make it all the way along the river to Maidstone to find the towpath shut near the high-level railway bridge and a really badly marked diversion – I have lived in Maidstone my whole life and struggled so I can imagine this would be frustrating to others. Really disappointing – surely signs marking the best route to Whatman Park would have been a good idea? Also encourages people to ditch transport and use the new paths…
I also noticed the Kentish Lady boat was running trips as usual to Allington and back but there was no mention of stopping at Whatman Park that I could see on any of the signs or boards – this is a huge missed opportunity.
Knowing that parking at Whatman Park is an issue this would have been a brilliant way to transport people there and back, and would be at any busy times. I note on the website it says that the stop is available by request but there is no signage explaining this and I’m not entirely sure how that would work on the way back, can you flag a boat down?
Entry to the Proms was free, it was a case of bringing a picnic and finding a spot in the natural amphitheatre. It was incredibly hot – there was no natural shade and I had to improvise with the pushchair and a carefully pegged blanket!
We watched the orchestra and Boogie Monsters who were AMAZING – children and adults were invited to the front and to join in with the singing, dancing and awesome fun – we cannot wait to see them in July, see my post here.
There was an ice cream van and a small craft table; and a bouncy castle, toilets and refreshments I believe but again this was unclear and you would only find things by stumbling upon them.
There is a short walk from each entrance to the main part of the park; I would allow about 10 minutes for this and recommend you take a pushchair – it’s hilly and hard-going for little legs; failing that it;s great for heavy bags and picnics.
I noticed on arrival and leaving that there were no signs directing you to the open-air stage; so people were very confused and had to guess where to walk. Unless you had visited before you wouldn’t know.
All in all we had a lovely time and would recommend it for a visit – just take the pushchair and go well prepared.
It is ideal for a picnic or the Malta Inn can be found a little downriver at Allington Lock plus you can get the Kentish Lady boat from there; it’s about a 15-20 minute walk from Whatman Park.