I’m sitting in a caravan, listening to the rain bounce off the roof. I glance over to one of the windows, and it literally looks like a waterfall running down. Well, I am in Scotland and the rain is what the country is best known for, right? Well, the weather is certainly one thing that Scotland is notorious for. But this post isn’t about the weather. This post is to tell you about one of its little hidden gems, that is great for kids… Just make sure you visit on a dry day.
Dino Park is situated inside Hetland Garden Centre, in a lovely little village called Carrutherstown, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. The postcode is DG1 4JX. Their telephone number is 01387 840632.
There is a large, free car park on site.
The prices were actually very reasonable for what you get, as you could very easily spend a full morning or the majority of an afternoon here.
A family ticket is for 2 adults and 2 children, costs £19. Buying the tickets individually would cost £21.00, so you’ll save a little if you purchase the family ticket.
Individual tickets are available, costing £6.50 for a child ages 2 and over; £3.50 for adults and over 14’s; concession tickets are £3.00 and under 2 year olds go free.
Usual opening times are 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week; although with the current regulations (thanks Covid-19), they are still open every day, but restricted hours are 10am to 4:30pm. I would advise that you contact the Dino Park yourselves to confirm opening times.
The park is wheelchair friendly, with wide, smooth paths, and the dinosaurs and majority of activities being suitable for all. I wouldn’t recommend the Enchanted Forest walk (optional free extra, near to the playground), as the route was rather muddy and tight in some places. Although, I reckon if you’re brave enough, a wheelchair could do it… Again, check with reception upon entering to see if it would be suitable for your needs.
The route around the park takes you passed various dinosaurs. You will see Velociraptors, Parasaurolophus’, Allosaurus’, Brachiosaurs and more. About a third of the way around the path, there’s an area where you can put a hard-hat on (there are disinfectant spray bottles and wipes to hand to clean before use) and then walk through a small “mine”. There’s an adorable carnivorous baby dinosaur inside. You don’t have to worry about him biting you though, because he’s safely housed inside a cage…
It’s his mum you need to be wary of, as she’s watching. Once you’ve made it safely through the mine, continue to follow the path. You’ll come across a photo spot with a giant gorilla, and if you’re friendly, she’ll let you sit in her hand to take a selfie with her… Perfect for your next Facebook profile pic.
Fancy yourself an archaeologist? There are two sand boxes up ahead which contain some bones just waiting to be discovered… Grab yourself one of the tools available and carefully brush away the sand until you find something.
If you have a spare pound coin on you, there’s are two small “motorised bikes” (£1 PER bike) on a track here too, but I honestly don’t think it’s worth it.
Right, if you need a break after all those dinosaurs and digging for fossils, here’s your chance to relax. There’s a small cafe here (more like a shed) that sold canned drinks, bottled juices and lovely ice creams. They may have sold hot beverages and other snacks, but I wasn’t paying attention to be honest. It was a bit pricey though, as I paid £1.49 for a can of Irn Bru and £1.10 for a bottle of Fruit Shoot. For the four of us, it was £5.18 (we only had a drink each).
There are tables and chairs to rest those legs (all outdoors) and an adventure playground! Gning and Donut were off as fast as lightning when they noticed it. It gave hubby and I a chance to “chill” for a bit, before we carried on. Please note that the playground is not suitable for very young children.
Once we recuperated, we walked through the playground, and through a wooden archway, in to the “Enchanted Forest”. This was a lovely little walk, with fairy doors, houses, hidden fairies, toadstools and more… A nice little touch for girls and those who believe in fairies, but a little out of place to be in a dinosaur park…
The Enchanted Forest is a loop, so you have to walk back through the playground area to proceed the remaining route. If you have kiddies like me, then this is a bit of a difficult one to navigate, because the second we were out of the fairy glen, Gning and Donut were begging to go back on the park… Hmph.
Anyway, we managed to quickly persuade the boys that we need to continue and finish the walk so we could take a quick look in the visitors shop. That seemed to be a winner, as they agreed to carry on without argument.
Rounding the corner from the play area were a few more dinosaurs and another photo spot. This time it was a jeep that seems to have gotten in to a little bit of trouble, and a Velociraptor was looking at the wreckage. Possibly because a baby was caged in the back.
That was near the end. The path continued to meandre around the park, passed more hidden dinosaurs, and eventually let to another shed that contained a single male and single female toilet. We then crossed the bridge and we were in the visitors shop.
The items in the shop were all reasonable priced. Gning decided that he wanted to purchase a “Monster Truck” and Donut opted for a cuddley “rattle” snake. I thought they both would have chosen something dinosaur related, considering we had just been playing with dino’s, but my boys just have to be different.
Here's my final thoughts...
Right, now that you know what Dino Park is, let’s get down to my actual thoughts.
Hetland Garden Centre was easy to navigate to. The Dino Park was a little difficult to find once inside the garden centre though, as they have implemented a one-way system through the place because of current circumstances. We did get a little lost, so we backtracked to ask where we were going.
Entry prices to the Park were well worth the money for what you got.
There was plenty to see and do – some “hands on” activities kept Gning and Donut (and hubby) busy for a little while.
The cafe at the halfway point was a nice added touch… I actually didn’t expect it, but it was a little pricey.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this hidden gem. It’s not too far from the English border – Gretna is only 19 miles away, with the English/Scottish border being approx. 1 mile further.