Growing up in Gloucestershire, I spent many a weekend in this county visiting places and exploring new things. One of the fondest memories I have is visiting Cotswold Farm Park with my family and on school trips as a child, and now I feel very lucky to have been asked to visit with my own children.
Last weekend saw the re-opening of Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park for the 2019 season and we went along to see how things have changed. Here’s what we thought…
Arriving at opening time, it was clear that it was going to be a busy day at the park. What with it being an unusually sunny February half term weekend, it would appear that everyone had the same idea as us – get up early and make the most of the day! However despite the large amount of people at the park we never felt that it was too busy, or too crowded much owing to the fact that the park is just so wonderfully open and big.
Our first stop was the lambing talk where the very knowledgable Darren explained all about how the lambing season works. It was so interesting! Obviously an expert at what he does, he talked us right through the process in a way that was interesting for adults and children. My eldest is only 3 but even she was asking us questions about the lambs as we sat and listened to Darren speak. Darren was just the first of many very knowledgeable and passionate staff that we met on the day and I have to say this is one of the things that made our day so special. They were so willing to explain things about the animals that they cared for whilst retaining a sense of humour that, let’s face it, you need when dealing with that many toddlers in a day!
Did you know: Cotswold Farm Park are expecting over 1000 lambs in the 100 day season this year, and one ewe last year birthed an incredible 6 lambs!
After the talk we decided to explore some of the many play areas that the farm park has on offer. Thea chose the Adventure Barn that we had walked past on our way to the lambing talk and she was very impressed to say the least! There are 3 play areas within the barn; Barefoot Beach, Forest Floor and Construction Corner. Our clear favourite was Forest Floor which both children raced around on little go-karts for a good 20 minutes before there was even the slightest sign of tiring out! There is also a café in the barn (The Shed) which offers a range of hot and cold drinks, perfect for parents who need to have a little break themselves!
We finally managed to pry the children away from playing with the offer of getting up close with some smaller breeds in the Discovery/Experience Barn. Whilst we missed the Lamb bottle-feeding that you can help out with each day, we did enjoy meeting some of the other animals! Thea took great pleasure in holding the guinea pigs, something she has never done before. At one point she was actually just moving seats on the bench so that she could carry on holding different guinea pigs! Again the staff were so good with her and gave us plenty of time to acclimatise our somewhat wild 3 year old into the idea of holding a real live animal! After the guinea pigs, Thea also held a baby chick with Daddy and then enjoyed piglets sniffing around her feet in the hay. The lady running this section was Thea’s absolute favourite person of the day as she let Thea sit next to her and generally made her feel really important so thank you – I’m only sorry I didn’t catch your name!
Next on our itinerary was some more play-time – this time we were outside on the bouncing pillows and in the sandpits. I can’t emphasise enough just how many different play areas there are at Cotswold Farm Park – it did get to the point where I just wanted to see more animals whilst the children just wanted to play so perhaps do be prepared for that! Having said that, the bouncing pillows were great fun and they have different
pillows for different age groups so I didn’t feel like the girls would be bounced off by older children in the slightest!
In my opinion we saved the best til last as my personal favourite of the whole park has to be the Rare Breeds Trail. This is a perfect opportunity to go for a calming walk around the paddocks to get a glimpse of some really rare farm breeds. You are also able to feed the animals with some specially produced feed that you can get on your entrance to the park and perhaps this is why I love this area so much. Both girls fed the animals and enjoyed being able to get up close to sheep and goats like they aren’t able to normally. I also loved feeding the animals too – I’m not sure why but it reminded me so much of when I was little and it was certainly very special to be able to share that with my own children. It was perhaps made a little less special by the sheer amount of sheep drool I got on my hand (thanks to one sheep!) but even that was worth it!
We rounded off our trip with a visit to the new Ox Shed visitor centre which houses one of the best gift shops I have ever been to. The range of local food and drink produce, coupled with a lovely homeware section and amazing toy area meant that we spent rather a long time moseying about! There is a fab Melissa & Doug train set to keep the children busy whilst you look around the shop too! Whilst we didn’t try the restaurant out on this trip, we did see some of the food go out and I have to say next time I’m sure we’ll stay and eat too!
We had such a wonderful day and it has come up in conversation almost every day since so I’m sure at some point in the season we will be making a very welcome return to Cotswold Farm Park!
Top Tips for Visiting Cotswold Farm Park
- Arrive Early. The park seemed to get busier as the day went on so definitely try and arrive early to get the most of your day. (It opens to the public at 10:30, or members at 9:30)
- Take snacks. Whilst there are plenty of places to grab a snack on your way round the park, it was super handy to be able to keep the kids going during the talk and the walk around the trail with some pre-prepared snacks. On the snack front, be sure to get your animal snacks from the entrance too for just 60p! It will really make your day!
- Plan the things you really want to do ahead of time. I really wanted to go to the lambing talk having never visited at this time of year before, and I also wanted to do the Rare Breeds trail as its my favourite! However there are so many things we didn’t get round to because the kids were playing so much. There’s a farm safari (on a tractor) that my husband was desperate to do so that’s on the list for next time!
- Buy your tickets in advance. You get a cheaper rate if you buy online in advance, plus if its busy, you can get into the park quicker with an online ticket. Also for visitors with reduced mobility, you can pre-book a wheelchair free of charge for use around the park if you call in advance.
- Keep an eye out for special events. I didn’t make it last year but Cotswold Farm Park screened The Lion King as one of their special events. There are already some current listings on the website for seasonal events (including some just for members) but do keep an eye out for events that are sure to make your visit even more special.
This post is labelled as an AD as we were given a family ticket to visit the park for free in return for a review/social media coverage. However I was not told what to include in my review and all of the opinions above are my own. It really is a great day out!