Thought we’d kick off the Medway Parks Challenge with one of Medway’s eight Green Flag Award Winning Parks, Broomhill Park in Strood. this is going to be a common phrase, but I’ve never actually been to this park before; frankly I’m a little ashamed to say that, because it was really very lovely. It’s certainly a little out of the way and because it is surrounded by houses unless you know it’s there, you wouldn’t know it’s there.
The park covers about ten acres of land with some attached woodland of about another ten acres. It seems the the park’s own charity organisation, The Friends of Broomhill managed to secure the woodland a few years ago with the help of the Medway Council. Broomhill is, as you might imagine, quite hilly but is well paved with walkways and shallow gradient steps which makes it quite accessible even in the wet. We took Charlotte in her pram and the steps weren’t too much of a problem. Many of the paths will be a problem for anyone using a wheelchair, but there is a route that allows access to almost all of the park that’s possible without steps, the map on the Council website correctly shows which paths have steps.
The park is clearly very well maintained, everything was very neat and tidy with trees and flower beds all maticulously kept. We didn’t spot a single piece of litter and there were plenty of rubbish bins and dog waste bins to help. At the top of the park there was newly planted saplings which was good to see. The park clearly has a very active community charity which keep a close eye on things, they even have a website better than that of most parish councils!
We chose to park on Farm Hill Avenue and walk into the park from here. Note that both paths here have steps. At the top of the hill next to a radio tower there is a viewing area where it is possible to see the River Thames and perhaps with a good eye or binoculars, even Tilbury Fort and Coalhouse Fort across the river in Essex.
Continuing into the main park there is a top field surrounded by trees and paths. There are a few attractions installed, including a human sundial (it was too overcast unfortunately!), an observation stone and some fixed outdoor gym equipment such as pull-up bars, etc. The view from the observation stone was really good, it was possible to see a good amount of Chatham, Rochester and even parts of Gillingham too. The Dockyard is visible, as is HMS Cavalier and Commissioner’s House. Plenty of benches here for siting down.
Walking down to the lower sections of the park on the southwest side there are signposted entrances to the Orchard Woodland which we chose not to attempt with the pram(!), but will come back with the baby bjorn. Here there are views across a large field with a ‘sports wall’ which has a goal and basketball hoop. Continuing round there are two play parks, one fenced in for younger children and another ‘woodland-style’ area for those a little older. Between the two parks there were a few picnic benches which would be great for a little outdoor lunch. Opted not to take pictures because both parks were full of children having fun. There was some unusual play equipment in the parks, my favourite was three tree trunks with notches cut into them alowing children to climb to the top.
At the North of the park there is a free paved car parking area accessible via King Arthur’s Drive, the car park has one disabled space, no gate or height restriction barrier. Despite the park being quite busy there were still spaces in the car park, so I’d expect parking wouldn’t normally be a problem. There’s of course plenty of surrounding on road parking anyway.
Dogs are permitted in the park, although not in the play park areas. We kept Dexter on his lead throughout, as we usually do, although plenty of other dogs were off-lead. We didn’t have any problems with other dogs running up to Dexter which was good, probably because there was plenty of space. Visiting the park in January the trees of course have no leaves, it’ll be nice to come back when things are more green. And we’ll certainly come back, this is a very good park not far from home.