Last summer we had a lovely time at a 4th birthday party at Smithills Open Farm, so we decided to brave the cold (!) last Sunday and head back for a family day out. I wasn’t 100% sure if it would be open to the public in January but was surprised to learn it’s open every day of the year other than Christmas day, Boxing day and New Years day!
It was around 40 minutes drive from our house in Bramhall but could be more or less depending on your proximity to the M60.
There’s a big car park right next to the entrance, and we first headed to ‘pet’s corner’ where we were able to milk the lambs and get up close and stroke lots of cute animals, including puppies and piglets (there were more to follow but my mini Mumbler, aged 2.5, isn’t big on sitting still at the moment!), so we checked out the indoor play area. There were no less than 2 bouncy castles, around 5 slides of varying sizes, wendy houses and those little toddler cars (I can’t remember if they have a specific name – the red and yellow ones). Safe to say we were in there quite a while!
We visited the llamas, lambs and goats where we were able to use some of the animal food we’d bought at the entrance (half of it ended up on the floor, but we did try!). We also said hello to the pigs, ponies and horses while we were there. Next – donkey rides! My daughter loved it and wanted to go ‘again’ (her favourite word at the moment!)
The three of us then headed off on a big tractor to feed the donkeys, which was lovely! In fact I was surprised at the range and frequency of activities given the time of year – tractor rides were every hour, as was pets corner (plus I think there were regular cow milking sessions but we didn’t get round to that!), and the donkey rides were running all day too.
As well as the indoor play area, there is great outdoor play area too, plus an undercover area where little ones can ride their own mini tractors!
What else did we see? Meerkats (my personal favourites), chicks, owls and there is even a reptile centre (home to the pythons, although fear not as they are very much enclosed!). No doubt there were more animals we missed!
We had lunch in the café, which was a pretty good size, a fairly varied and reasonably priced menu, good portion sizes served hot and fast service. No complaints! You can however take your own food and eat it in the undercover picnic area next to the indoor play area (perfectly placed but possible 5 minutes peace!), it’s really big too so shouldn’t be too difficult to grab a table in busier months!
What else can I tell you? The staff were lovely and lots of them around, and there are lots of handwashing stations too which you are strongly encouraged to do after touching the animals! There was also a really nice gift shop where I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced everything was!
It was £8 each for my husband and I, and £7 for my daughter, plus £1 for a bag of food, £1 for a donkey ride and £3 for all of us to go on the tractor. A total of £28. Given the wide range of activities available, the number of staff on duty, the cost of keeping the farm and the fact you can bring a picnic, I think this is an excellent value day out!
I think the best thing about this as a day out is that it’s suitable for all ages – from little ones right through to adults (who doesn’t love cute animals?!). It certainly kept my mini Mumbler entertained for more than 3 hours so gets a definite thumbs up from me!