Days Out: Lee Valley Park Farm, Essex (Review) [AD – Press Trip]
Last weekend, we were invited to Lee Valley Park Farm in Essex to kick off the new season and take part in a new event at the farm; conservation week.
We’d never visited Lee Valley Park Farm before, but we’re a sucker for a farm, and seeing as we had a rare Saturday off together we thought we’d take a trip to Essex!
Lee Valley Park Farm
Located about an hour and a half from Brighton, Lee Valley Park Farm is just off the M25 and is part of a number of other ‘Lee Valley’ sites. The drive was pleasant, the area is incredibly picturesque and there is ample parking for the size of the farm.
We arrived just before it opened at 10am and stayed until 2ish, which was surprising as the farm was not as big as I had initially thought; looking at the map. When we arrived, we were greeted by friendly and welcoming staff and were given a map and the activity book for conservation week.
There were several things to find within the activity book, from various species of plants and animals, to a butterfly trail. There was also lots of facts about nature and how to look after the environment. I was really impressed with the booklet.
We followed the route stated on the map, which took us through various stables and barns, the outdoor paddocks, and a few play areas.
All the animals were really charming and each enclosure had interesting facts about it’s occupants. Dotted around the farm yard were also smaller enclosures for ferrets and small birds, but they were nicely tucked up inside as it was still a little chilly.
After having a walk around the farm yard, we then explored the paddocks where other animals were kept as well as a few smaller play and breakout areas. Although there is a brand new sand and water area (probably better in the summer months though!) as well as the Alpine Adventure, there were a few areas within the paddock area that looked a little worn and tired, and overgrown. For example, some of the ride on toys were broken and the two play houses probably could do with a coat of paint, but this didn’t stop T from having fun. Plus, the surrounding views were absolutely wonderful.
Continuing on our walk, we then made our way back down to the main farm where a Falconry talk was just starting. This was perfect timing as T was getting a little tired and hungry from all the running around.
The talk was really interesting and despite having seen a few shows in my time I still learnt something new. T really enjoyed how interactive the show was and was stunned at how close the birds got to him.
After the talk had finished, we let T have a little play in the park before making our way to the Meerkat lookout; which was probably the biggest surprise of the day as I did not expect to see Meerkats at a farm!
The Meerkat area is really well thought out, with the main enclosure semi-surrounded by a sandpit for little ones to play in next to the meerkats. There’s also a small tunnel to explore that gets them even closer as well as a walkway above that looks over the enclosure from a birds-eye perspective.
At this point, T was getting a little hungry, so we broke for lunch at this point and had another play in the park. The farm actually has several places to eat on site, as well as plenty of room for a picnics. The picnic area where we sat has lots of benches and grassy areas for families to eat at, as well as lots of washing areas for dirty hands. There’s also a small seating area undercover in the bundle barn.
In addition, there’s also the ‘Winning Post‘ cafe with further seating on the decking in the centre of the farm – although this is only open during peak times – as well as the main restaurant/cafe at the entrance which serves hot meals.
After lunch, we took ourselves off for one final walk around incase we’d missed anything and then made our way to the Bundle Barn for a spot of soft play. We’re so glad we did this, as another talk at Critter Corner was just starting. This is where T learnt a few things about snakes and Chinchillas and lots of other small animals – he even got to pet some of them. After the talk had finished, we had a quick walk around the rest of Critter Corner as we’d missed it the first time around as it’s tucked away in the corner somewhat.
Back at Bundle Barn, Sharon and I had a little rest whilst T explored the soft play area. Although it’s not a massive soft play, there are two separate areas for younger and older children, and we were happy for some comfty chairs! I imagine though it gets quite busy in peak times.
After T had exhausted soft play, we then finished our day with a walk around Rabbit World – a small walkthrough Rabbit trail – and Cavie Canyon.
Just as we thought our day was over, we spotted signs for their dairy farm, and as I can’t resist a cow, we thought we’d extend our trip a bit further (especially as tractor rides were starting in 45 minutes!). So after a short 10 minute walk, which seemed to go via a rather large gaggle of geese who were resting in a nearby field, we arrived at the farm where we saw several cows and calves and learnt about the milking process.
We, surprisingly, killed those 45 minutes walking around the dairy farm, so much so that when we arrived back at the entrance the tractor rides were just starting, and T loves a tractor ride (even if it does take you back up to the dairy farm!). It really finished off our day nicely.
What We Thought…
Lee Valley Park Farm is a lovely locals farm. It’s not overly big, so we probably won’t have a need to visit from Brighton again, and it’s probably catered for younger children, but we still had a really lovely day out! It’s perfect for a morning or afternoon visit. Tickets are £10 at the weekend and during school and bank holidays, and £6 Monday to Friday term time, which I don’t think is too bad when you take into consideration the talks and free activity packs during special events. Under 2’s are free.
There’s lots to see and do on site – especially during special events like conservation week – and on certain days there are animal races. The falconry area offer special experience packages, and there are a number of feeding times and talks throughout the day. If you want to stay the whole day there’s also the nearby country park to explore!
As mentioned, there are a few areas that need upgrading and refreshing, and I probably would have liked to have explored a larger gift shop, but it certainly didn’t ruin anything about the farm. You can see new additions being added all the time, including events, so all the more reason for locals to come back and visit! It really is a sweet little farm.
We were given complimentary tickets in exchange for an honest review, however all thoughts, opinions, and imagery are our own.