Knowle Park Cranleigh – spreading the word

by Lucy Boatswain

Early on a Saturday morning in late May, a handful of volunteers quietly removed the fencing at the car park entrance to the new Knowle Park in Cranleigh.

One or two early dog walkers noticed… one or two told a few… and so, largely unannounced, Knowle Park in Cranleigh blossomed throughout the day until, by early afternoon, the play area was full of giggles. Coffee and ice creams were being shared, and local people enjoyed the lake, its bridges and paths and the vast amphitheatre.

And so, over the coming days, the most common question on everyone’s lips in Cranleigh and surrounding villages became, have you been to the new park in Cranleigh?

“It has been a great pleasure to see so many people enjoying this newly accessible outdoor space,” says the chairman of the Knowle Park Trust, Martin Bamford. 

“After so many years working to ensure we have an outdoor space that everyone can use, whatever their abilities, it’s wonderful to see children in wheelchairs high up on the playground bridges, care home residents visiting with their carers, enjoy time beside the water, and young people basking in the sun up on the amphitheatre.” 

Aerial photo of the scouts enjoying the amphi-theatre!

Martin and his team of Trustees hope the park can soon offer nature tours, host live music performances and enable community members to join in with caring for the ecology of this beautiful space, which balances the needs of people with the precious plants and wildlife who share it.

The park is still at an early stage; the wildflower meadows are yet to germinate, and the lakeside planting is yet to be established fully, Yet those who visit are vocal in their expressions of pleasure and surprise at what they see.

Some of Knowle Park’s little goslings at the waters edge!

On behalf of the Trust and the many visitors who have spoken with the team, Martin is keen to express his “immense gratitude” to the park’s benefactors, Nick and Rowena Vrijland and added: “Every moment of joy, peace, and connection experienced within the park’s bounds is a testament to their benevolent spirit.”

Knowle Park has been described as a new 60-acre country park and wildlife reserve that offers an adventure playground and a lake for visitors to enjoy. It also has nearly four miles of new paths and upgraded existing footpaths and bridleways – all wheelchair and buggy friendly.

Tiny and precious, the lakes edge is alive with newly hatched froglets

Thousands of new trees and plants have been planted throughout the space, and local businesses Heartwork Coffee and Moooh! Ice Cream have set up at kiosks. Toilets, full ‘Changing Places’ disabled facilities and car parking are also available on site.

Martin continued: “Managing Knowle Park as a country park and nature reserve will require a careful balance between the needs of people and nature. Already, the vast majority of visitors are respecting the need to keep their dogs on a lead and out of the water, giving our ecology the opportunity to flourish.

Refreshments are available in the park from Moooh! Ice Cream and Heartwork Coffee

“Our next goal is to recruit a team of volunteers to assist our park manager, Grant, with the day-to-day operation of the site, with plenty of projects available, including the removal of invasive Himalayan Balsam from our river, litter picking, and weeding.”

Since it was constructed, Knowle Park has become home to goslings, ducklings, newts, frogs, and dragonflies. It is also regularly visited by Buzzards, Red Kites, and other birds said to include Little Egrets and Little Grebe.

If you are interested in helping out at Knowle Park, either as part of a working party or as a regular, gentle presence in the park to assist with the day-to-day, please contact: 

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