Christmas Day out: Land Rover Experience Eastnor – Off-road driving and Santa’s Grotto

Christmas, Days Out, Reviews
Land Rover Experience Eastnor offroad driving and Santa's Grotto. Eastnor Castle, driving experience gift. Herefordshire
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Last weekend we were delighted to be invited to Land Rover Experience Eastnor to experience their ‘Drive + Santa’ family experience. This is a Christmas day out which is incomparable. It’s running every Saturday until Christmas – the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and can be booked on the Land Rover Experience Eastnor – Santa’s Grotto booking page. An afternoon of off road driving in a brand new Land Rover, followed by a visit to Santa’s Magical Grotto. Elves, toasting marshmallows, coffee, and a really brilliant Santa – one of, if not the best we’ve seen, really meant our afternoon was the perfect family activity. The driving experience, meant it was absolutely thrilling for us parents too. Where else can your family visit to Santa, rank in your top 10 most exhilarating experiences. It also gave me a whole new set of birthday ideas for hubby! Back to the Santa and Drive, starting with the Land Rover Experience…

We arrived at Eastnor, parked the car and entered the polished, shiny, Land Rover Experience Centre. The girl’s were given their tickets to Santa along with activities for the car – spot the forest friends on our drive through the magical forrest. We drank coffee and signed the paperwork which allowed us to drive. Hubby popped to our car for H’s car seat, and H and B cycled around on the Land Rover trikes – a fantastic touch to keep little ones entertained. I’d have loved a shot too!

A lovely shiny, huge Land Rover Discovery pulled up and we installed H’s car seat. Not our most seamless activity, but we got there in the end. I climbed into the drivers seat. It felt safe, comfy, gadget-y, and I was not disappointed. There is nothing this car won’t do. Then I looked out the front windscreen and realised just how big this car is. It was reassuring given I was first up, and driving into the unknown! Driving out towards the off road trails, of which there are over 600 miles worth at Eastnor, the car seemed silent. It just drove. Effortless driving at it’s best. We climbed the trails and then started the fun. The absolute suspense of reaching a peak in the troughs we were driving through, not seeing the ground in front of the car. Just knowing that there was a huge dip in front of us and I was going to drive us down. It was incredible. The holding your breath anticipation, as we went, was second to none. However, the thing that struck me was ‘this was the car driving’, the car was completely in control and the car knew exactly what it was doing. It limited the speed, worked the wheels individually, adjusted everything and seriously, it stopped us from skidding down that bank and into the trees, not me. I wasn’t even touching the brake! We climbed and dropped through the forest spotting forest friends on the way. It was an absolutely exhilarating ride. Then we switched drivers, and discovered the true wonders that had been going on as we adjusted settings in the car. The car had risen to allow more clearance. The floor of the car was now higher than my knee.

The next stage of driving was bonkers. I can’t describe it any other way, driving the car up the concrete steps, the car lurching to the side, driving through immense water creating a tidal wave. I cannot do this justice, as I wasn’t driving, however, H’s comment ” I think the car is going to fall over” sums it up.

Next up was hubby and he contended with some crazy inclines, water of unknown depth, slippy slopes and just general ‘real’ off roadness which we’d never usually encounter. I’ve edited a quick video of our experience so you can get a real idea of what we were doing – the video doesn’t do it justice, but then neither do my photos.

The Drive section of the experience lasted going on an hour, and H was not bored in the slightest, even though, as a just turned 4 year old she didn’t really have a clue about half of what was going on. She enjoyed her experience pack and looking out for the animals and she very excitedly saw most of them. I never would have thought to take her somewhere like this, but it really was fantastic.

On arriving back at Eastnor, we jumped out of the car and went to see Santa. the Eastnor Santa’s Grotto was fantastically magical, fairy lights, and a snow machine (although we didn’t see it as it had scared the living daylights out of B while we were driving). We’d opted not to take B with us on the drive as she was feeling a bit under the weather and we didn’t want to be on edge that she would be bored and wanting out of the car… or hungry. Back to Santa, we were offered some tea and coffee,  along  with gorgeous iced kids biscuits, mince pies and marshmallows to toast. Going to visit Santa is always exciting, but this was magical, a winter wonderland. The teepee was really spectacular, the hugest Christmas tree, a real fire, a truly brilliant Santa. He was funny, friendly, and to be honest very real. He had a ‘nice’ book, and as he’d already been filled in about H and B, what they liked, what they’d asked Santa for, what they’d say their biggest achievements were, he did know it all!

It was magical as a parent, even with B, petrified and screaming at points, but H was enthralled. We then indulged in some marshmallow toasting and had some more of our coffees (a bit cooler now!). I also explored the craft room – again, somewhere H could have spent all afternoon enjoying. Unfortunately B was really getting upset, and, we realised had a bit of a temperature, so we had to make a move to get home.  Don’t get me wrong, we were still there a couple of hours in total.

The Santa and Drive Experience runs every Saturday (1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd) of December, until Christmas and costs £139 for a family of 4. Kids are allowed, you just have to take their car seats. The website says this experience is around 90 minutes long.

Eastnor also have a Santa’s Grotto experience (without driving) which is 60 minutes long, and £35 for a family of four. It includes Christmas activities, writing a letter to Santa, toasting marshmallows and visiting Santa.

Seriously, though, the photos and the videos I’ll be uploading this weekend just do not do this experience justice. We had a thrilling time, and thank you to everyone at Eastnor Land Rover Experience for a magical experience.

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