On Sunday we visited the Donegore Hill Open Farm for the second time, though the first was for a birthday party and as we were not footing the bill, I didn’t feel I could comment on its value as a day out, so we went back to get a real feel for the place.
This place is right on our doorsteps and for years now has changed hands every so often and changed function from a garden centre to a tea room and so on, but this latest reinvention is perfect timing for the age of our boys.
The farm is owned by Simon and Laura Moore, who have a background in conservation and agriculture, so given the farms proximity to some important historical sites, this gives the farm a very “at one with nature” feeling and they boys certainly picked up on it.
We arrived at about 2:30 on a Sunday and it was quite quiet despite the beautiful weather. We paid in with a super friendly receptionist and three adults, A (4) and F (2) came to £19. Obviously this is a high price, especially as F is free for being two, however we were daft bringing three adults when two would have sufficed, but what can I say we wanted the family time. The pricings are
Senior citizen £4.00
Children £4.00 (for the first 2 children.)
Each child thereafter is £2.00
Two and under are free
Donegore Hill Open Farm are now on my list of establishments for kids that charge entry for the adults despite the fact that the parent is only there to follow their children around and go on to spend more money on a coffee (ie sweet relief) at the end of it all. Sorry Donegore, charge me more for my coffee, or charge a bit more for my kids, but charging the adults is a thorn in my side.
We paid in, without that rant may I add, and headed straight to see the animals. We had been on their website to see some of the animals so ‘Buttons’ the pigmy goat was like a celebrity to the boys.
The farm area is an open barn with lots of enclosures around the side and an aviary in the middle. You can cuddle a chick if you like but as you can see below, it’s not A’s cup of tea at all… both of us can be somewhat ‘indoorsy’.
Lots of the animals are roaming free which is lovely, but maybe my two are a bit young yet as both found it a little intimidating and as such, were both more interested in the enclosures, even attempting to get in and have a bit of craic with the llamas!
After a relatively little time in the open farm, we headed outdoors to the play area which has loads of heavy duty ride ons, a track for thee kids to scoot around and a sand pit with diggers. There’s plenty of space for them to play and the views are spectacular.
After a solid play there, we decided to go on their nature trail. We’d spotted the nature trail on our last visit while on a Birthday Barrel Ride and thought it would be fab with a bit more time and we weren’t wrong.
The views are amazing and the informative signs about the trees made for some lovely learning moments while walking (adults and children FYI) and for mums of little hurricanes, the walk is hilly so a hand is needed every so often, but all fenced in, so I could let F run a little ahead of me without worrying too much.
After the trail, we headed to the cafe for a treat and like fools, we ordered coffees. It was roasting, but like most sleep deprived parents, ordering coffee is a reflex that we couldn’t override. I lifted a bottle of water for the kids only to spot while paying that they had two large dispensers giving water for free – top marks guys!! We drank and drank while the kids amused themselves at the indoor play area.
The cafe was tasty, and not unreasonable – though I’m never pleased when places only do espresso based coffees – there should be an option for plain old black coffee – instant or filter coffee. With an Americano, I never know if it’s going to be strong enough etc and even when it is, I prefer the taste of filter, so I begrudge paying extra for something I don’t really want… but I digress, massively.
Two Americanos, a cappuccino a traybake, a scone, and a bottle of water came to £13.50.
All in all, the visit was worth the money and we could have stayed even longer had the weather not been so warm as our two were zapped by the muggy temperatures but I know rightly on cooler day we’d have done the nature trail and then come back for another go in the play area.
The same trip to the likes of Streamvale Farm would have cost us £25.50 + fuel and while Donegore Hill Open Farm is much smaller and less well established, I felt much less like I was at a farm planted in the city. We could take a large chunk out of the costs for the day if we’d brought a flask of coffee and a few snacks from home and we’ll be doing so next time
Going forward, I’d like to see more ticket options – family tickets, annual passes etc and a bit more added in the way of climbing frames.
So the day cost us