Need to get back to nature? Take your kids to a farm for the day - it's good fun, educational and cheap too. From cuddling rabbits to helping to milk the cows, there are lots of ways to get involved.
Want to get back to nature this summer and keep your kids off their gadgets? Here we've rounded up some of the best free farms to take your kids. It's good fun, educational and a really cheap family day out.
From cuddling rabbits to helping to milk the cows, there are lots of ways that kids (and adults!) can get involved and you'll enjoy farm shops, play areas and walking trails as well.
Old Holly Farm, Preston, Lancashire
What's there: The free Old Holly Farm is a family-run organic dairy farm with plenty to offer kids. It's a working farm so you can watch the cows being milked at the end of the day and you'll see donkeys, goats, alpacas and other farm animals roam the courtyard. There's a petting area too with rabbits, chickens and more. You can't bring a picnic, but their Courtyard Café serves homemade food, and there's a farm shop plus Coolcow ice cream (made from their own organic milk). They also have donkey rides and an indoor soft playbarn (charges apply).
Open: Daily 9am-5pm. Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
How to get there: Old Holly Farm is on the main A6 road, 2 miles north of Garstang (direction of Lancaster). From the north, leave the M6 at junction 33 and from the south, leave the M6 at junction 32 - from both, follow the the A6 (signposted for Garstang) and follow the brown sign for Old Holly Farm. There's free parking too. A regular bus also connects Preston and Lancaster and stops outside the farm.
Website: Old Holly Farm
St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol
What's there: Located in the middle of Bristol, this free city farm consists of a 4-acre working farm, 2-acre community gardens and 3-acre educational woodland. As you wander around, you'll see sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and rabbits - and at different times of the year, there may also be lambs, young cows and baby goats. There's also an adventure playground for the kids and an award-winning café which serves organic, local food including eggs, meat, vegetables and salad from the farm. Opening soon is a farm shop with gifts, crafts, local produce and seasonal activity packs for the little ones.
Open: Daily 9am - 5pm (winter 4pm). The café is closed on Tuesdays.
How to get there: The farm is located in St Werburghs on Watercress Rd and easily reached from junction 3 of the M32. There are full directions on the website for train, bus and road travel plus directions for walking from the city centre.
Website: St Werburghs City Farm
Bill Quay Community Farm, Gateshead
What's there: With fantastic views over the river Tyne, this free city farm looks after endangered Breeds of Livestock - the farm is a Rare Breed Survival Trust Approved Conservation Farm Park with animals like Longhorn cattle and Hebridean sheep, as well as rabbits, ducks and geese. Kids will love looking at the animals and it's a brilliant place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There's also an arts and activity space which is home to The Farmyard Arts Studio, as well as walks, trails and regular Farm Task Days where you can join in and learn new skills.
Open: Daily 9am - 5pm (restricted access to some areas before noon)
How to get there: The farm is easily accessible via the A1 whether travelling from the north or south. The nearest station is Newcastle Central from where you can take the metro to Pelaw. There are full road and rail directions on the website.
Website: Bill Quay Community Farm
Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham
What's there: At this free urban farm, children can feed and pet the animals which include the Dexter cows, Billy the Shetland Pony, Stinky the Saddleback Pig and Pinky the Gloucester Old Spot. There are also rabbits, guinea-pigs, chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys and even a resident tortoise and terrapin. The new aviary houses cockatiels, a rosella parrot, and budgerigars, while staff and visitors grow herbs, fruit, vegetables in the gardens and polytunnels - the farm even makes its own honey. There's a lovely nature walk to spot wild birds and butterflies.
Open: Daily 10am - 4.15pm (Sundays open at 11am)
How to get there: The farm is just east of Nottingham city centre, just off the B686 Carlton Road and easily accessed from the main A60. Buses 25 and 27 from the town centre also take you to the farm on Stonebridge Road.
Website: Stonebridge City Farm
Swansea Community Farm, Swansea
What's there: Set up by locals, this free city farm has walking paths, display pens, a wildlife pond and a courtyard. Kids will love the Animal House and Workshop, with ducks, sheep, goats and pigs, along with Rocky, the Light Sussex Cockerel, and Fluffy, leader of the ducks. The farm's first lambs, Lotty, Leticia and Larry, a rare Welsh breed, have even appeared on BBC Wales. Children ages 8-16 will love the Saturday Farm Club (check the website for dates, cost £1) where they help feed the animals, muck out pens and carry out other farm tasks.
Open: Mon - Sat 10am to 4pm
How to get there: The farm is easy to get to from M4 at junction 47 and is located between the old Walker's Crisp factory and Cadle Primary School, off the junction between Middle Road and Pontarddulais/Carmarthen Road. Swansea is the closest train station where buses 110,111,112, X13, X14, and 26 take you to the farm.
Website: Swansea Community Farm
Tam O'Shanter Urban Farm, The Wirral
What's there: With a pretty location on Bidston Hill on the Wirral, this free, historic cottage and urban farm is run by a charitable trust. There are lots of farm animals including goats, chickens, geese, pigs and sheep. As well as petting rabbits and milking cows, the farm encourages children to find out about other creatures such as the bees and worms! On the website, you can download and print activity sheets from nature trails to treasure hunts. The Tam O'Shanter Farm Café also serves a variety of well-priced meals and snacks.
Open: Daily 9.30am - 4.30pm
How to get there: The farm is located on the B5151 Talbot Road, close to junctions 1 and 2 of the M53. The nearest train station is Birkenhead North and bus 437 (between Liverpool and West Kirby via Birkenhead Bus Station) passes every 15 minutes, around the corner from the farm on Upton Road.
Website: Tam O'Shanter Urban Farm
Mudchute Park & Farm, London
What's there: Covering 32 acres of countryside in east London, Mudchute is London's largest city farm with British rare breeds and over 200 animals and fowl including Polly the Polish hen, llamas, Chinese geese and a Gloucestershire Old Spot pig. You can book hands-on 'Animal Encounter' sessions during term-time. Pets Corner, with giant rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets, is open year-round. Other daily activities include the 9am duck walk from the farmyard to the duck pond and the afternoon duck walk back from the pond (3pm in winter, 4pm in summer).
Open: Farm Tue - Sun 9am-5pm; Park open all day, every day.
How to get there: The easiest option is Crossharbour station on the Docklands Light Railway. After crossing the road and walking through the ASDA car park, there's direct entry to Mudchute Park and Farm. The farm is also accessible via the A13, following signs for the Isle of Dogs and on the A1206 towards Island Gardens.
Website: Mudchute Park and Farm
Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, Leeds
What's there: We've sneaked this farm in as it's not really free but with admission just £1 for over 16s and 50p for children, it's a bit of a bargain for what it is. Set on a 24-acre site, this working farm has plenty of animals, including rare breeds, and has endangered species. Kids will love the donkeys, ducks, goats, hedgehogs, pigs and even bees, and during certain times they can cuddle rabbits and guinea pigs and feed lambs (in season). The farm also runs a Summer Playscheme for 8- to 12-year-olds in July and August.
Open: Farm, shop and café open daily 10am-4pm
How to get there: The farm is 2 miles from Leeds station and bus Eastgate 51A takes you directly to the farm. Located north of Leeds, the farm is easy to reach via the M1 motorway and close to the A58(M). Parking is free.
Website: Meanwood Valley Urban Farm
Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh
What's there: This free city farm in Edinburgh is a great city escape. The farm's cow is called Jersey and there are number of sheep, including one Ryeland Tup male sheep called Kenny, orphan lambs (which you can help to bottle feed in the right season), and lots of Suffolks.The farm's Pet Lodge is where kids can get hands-on and learn how to feed and hold animals. Gorgie Farm's animals include a tortoise born in 1956, Dougal the snake, hamsters, various birds, guinea pigs and rabbits. The farm also offers courses in agriculture, gardening and handicrafts for adults and children.
Open: Daily 9.30am - 4.30am (winter 4pm). Closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
How to get there: The farm is close to the A71 route but parking is limited (£2 charge) so the farm encourages visitors to use public transport. The farm is a 15-minute walk from Haymarket Station and several buses stop at the gate. There are full directions on the website.
Website: Gorgie City Farm
Kentish Town City Farm, London
What's there: Located on a disused timber yard, this city farm in Gospel Oak near Camden, is home to ducks, geese, horses, goats, pigs, sheep and more - the latest addition to the farm is Champ, a Welsh cob horse. Children over 4 can enjoy pony rides at 1.30pm at the weekends (weather permitting) for £2 a ride - much cheaper than horse-riding lessons! During term-time, activities include singsongs, pottery and pony riding, so check the website for details.
Open: Daily 9am-5pm
How to get there: The farm is close to Gospel Oak and Kentish Town West on the overground North London Line and also to Kentish Town and Chalk Farm tube stations on the Northern Line.
Website: Kentish Town City Farm
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