Spring is without doubt the best time for a trip to a farm. Tractors are primed and ready for farm safaris, ponies are champing at the bit for young equestrians, first buds are breaking cover and mini-beasts are out in force. And, once lambing season is underway, between December and early April, the UK’s farms come alive with fleecy, gambolling cuteness. Here are our favourite places for fun on the farm.
1/7 Cotswold Farm Park, Cheltenham
Lambing is in full swing at Cotswold Farm Park from mid-February and if kids are interested in seeing the miracle live, this is the place. Younger farmers can try their hand bottle-feeding new born lambs or goats and the Touch Barn’s packed with chicks and fluffy baby rabbits at the moment.
Outside, there’s the puzzling park maze and adventure playground. Or, you can sign up for a guided Farm Safari and let kids see the non-fluffy-cuteness side of the country.
The park’s woodland walks are lovely too. If it’s not quite picnic weather, the café is always open for home-baked treats and hot drinks.
When: Seven days from 10.30am to 5pm
Where: Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power GL54 5UG. Half an hour’s drive from Cheltenham on the A40 Oxford Road
Cost: child (4-15) £10.50, under 4s £7.50 and adults £12
2/7 Odds Farm Park, High Wycombe
When Odds Farm say, ‘kid’s activities, all day, every day, whatever the weather’, they really mean it. Of course, they have lambs in the spring and the undercover Animal Contact Barn means even younger kids can feel the cuteness. Other close encounters with pigs, goats, cows, donkeys, horses, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs are part of the experience here too. The park specialises in rare breeds, so curious creatures aren’t uncommon and there’s always someone on hand to answer questions.
Kids can get into milking, egg collecting, helping out at Piggy Teatime, feeding baby animals and dozens of other farm ‘chores’. And when they need a break from work, playtime’s covered with go-kart tracks, adventure playgrounds, storytelling, craft workshops and crazy golf.
Some events are seasonal but just as many are every-day, so this is a fine farm to visit any time.
When: Seven days from 10am to 5.30pm
Where: Odds Farm Park, Wooburn Common, High Wycombe HP10 0LX. 20 minutes from Maidenhead on the Clivedon Road
Cost: child from £9.50, adult from £10.50
3/7 DairyLand Farm World, Newquay
Another farm that doesn’t let the weather get in the way of a good time, DairyLand mixes up animal encounters and fun tasks, has several play zones (indoor and out) and organises family events all year round.
Recommended as one of the Best Days Out in Cornwall, the focus here’s on dairy (the name was probably a hint) but cows aren’t the only creatures to meet. Younger kids love Pat-a-Pet encounters with goats, ponies, sheep and rabbits and bolder, older children get to help with milking and meet the rare breed herd.
The farm has family nature trails and wildlife treks any time, but kids can only get lost in the vast Maize Maze at the height of summer – another excuse to visit Newquay when the sun’s shining.
When: seven days from 10am to 5pm
Where: DairyLand Farm World, Newquay TR8 5AA. 20 minutes from Newquay on the A3058
4/7 Swansea Community Farm
If you’re looking for a more hands-on experience, the community farm just outside Swansea is perfect. Kids can help out with the animals here, get good and grubby in the garden and learn all about the nitty-gritty of working on the land. Not quite as arduous as it sounds, the team of friendly volunteers make even the mucky tasks an adventure and decidedly docile livestock are plenty good fun to be around.
You can just go along and visit, there’s always something new to see. But take wellies – just in case you can’t resist the lure of honest toil.
When: Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm
Where: Swansea Community Farm, 2 Pontarddulais Road, Fforestfach SA4 4BA. 15 minutes from Swansea city centre on the A483
5/7 Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh
Just 5km from the centre of Edinburgh, Gorgie City Farm’s been around since the 1970s, keeping generations of city folk in touch with the country.
Fun and learning are what to expect here and enthusiastic volunteers are experts at engaging kids with real-life farming and getting them involved in everything from feeding animals to vegetable gardening.
Permanent residents include sheep, goats, cows, ducks and pigs: visit at the right time and there’s a high chance of piglets too, the record is 32 in one litter!
Gorgie’s free and has a brilliant farm stall for fresh hen’s eggs and, occasionally, duck eggs – though it’s more common to see sweet ducklings roaming around. They also have a flock of Pygmy Goats, which are almost as cute as lambs.
When: seven days from 9.30am to 4pm
Where: Gorgie City Farm, 51 Gorgie Road EH11 2LA. 15 minutes walk from Haymarket Station along Dalry Road
6/7 Cannon Hall Farm, Barnsley
Not content with lambs, Cannon Hall Farm has a Lambing Festival until 26 February. If your aren’t sure what that is exactly: think lambs everywhere, bottle feeding new-born lambs, shepherd workshops and a Lamb Disco.
Seasoned visitors to this fantastic farm won’t even be slightly surprised by the idea of dancing lambs. It’s just one of many brilliantly off-beat events Cannon Hall organise during the year. So if you miss the Lambing Festival don’t fret, you can always go along for Sheep Racing, Superhero Parties, Stargazing or the huge annual Farm Food Festival in August.
As well as sheep, kids can meet goats, horses, pigs and piglets, baby llamas, Shetland ponies, Highland cattle and not one, but two, resident reindeer. There’s also an indoor play area, outdoor adventure playground and a truly exceptional Farm Shop selling local produce – apparently people visit the farm just to buy sausages.
When: Seven days from 10am to 5pm
Where: Cannon Hall Farm, Bark House Lane, Cawthorne, Barnsley S75 4AT. 10 minutes west of Barnsley on the A635
Cost: £5.95 at weekends and £3.95 on weekdays
7/7 Mudchute Park & Farm, Isle of Dogs, London
For a day in the country with a view of the city, head to Mudchute. It’s one of the largest urban farms in Europe and covers an astonishing 32 acres of land right in the heart of London’s East End.
Lambs aren’t a promise here, but there are plenty of compensations like piglets and seriously fancy fowl, curious traditional sheep breeds, donkeys, goats, llamas, alpaca and an entire aviary filled with birds. It’s a great space for wandering around and if kids get tired of farm animal, the park’s a mini-beast paradise – even in colder weather.
Mudchute’s free and has kid’s events and activities all year round. There’s also a riding school and if you’re interested in keeping chickens or spinning wool, you could sign up for one of their excellent adult workshops.
When: Seven days from 8am to 4pm
Where: Mudchute Park & Farm, Pier Street, Isle of Dogs E14 3HP. Nearest DLR Stations are Mudchute, Crossharbour and Island Gardens