It was a great opportunity to introduce the younger generation to a place that the girls and I used to frequent when they were younger. They’re not so keen on hanging out with their mama much these days so my sister and niece, H, came along with Adam and me for a family day out.
I’d already paid online for 3 adult tickets (under 2’s go free), a trip on the tractor each and 4 bags of animal feed at a total cost of £29 so I simply showed the cashier my e-ticket and off we went. The last time I visited Smithills Open Farm was circa 2014 so it’s no surprise that things have changed quite a bit since then.
The first thing we did was make good use of our animal food and…well, fed the animals. From chickens to baby goats (or ‘kids’ if you want to be technically accurate, however, that also means baby humans here up North so I didn’t want to paint an odd picture), sheep and calves, there were plenty of hungry bellies in the pens.
A llama took a shine to H and decided to pop its head over the fence to lick her face. Her mum and I found this hilarious, however, she needed a while to trust the other animals after that little hiccup. In the meantime, I made friends with a beautiful calf who nudged my hands for head rubs.
Adam was busy feeding the goats so we joined him. As I offered them food in my open palm, the baby goats tag teamed me. One bit my finger as its sibling took full advantage of me being temporarily distracted and grabbed the paper bag full of feed from my other hand in some kind of strategic power move. Well played goats, well played.
Next, we moved outside to find donkey rides, meerkats, sheep, wallabies, more llamas, alpacas, owls and horses. The grounds are easily accessible and well maintained with lots of seating, hand washing stations and toilets available – always handy when out and about. Adam and I grabbed a coffee to go from the cafe and by then, it was lunchtime.
We’d brought our own picnic along and were pleasantly surprised to find a sheltered picnic area with plenty of seats, tables and bins. After a feast of fruit, sandwiches and cake, it was time for my personal favourite part of Smithills Open Farm – Pets Corner.
This is where you get the chance to really learn about farm life as the staff introduce animals such as baby llamas, donkeys, owls, chicks, rabbits, guinea pigs and lambs. Not only that, you are encouraged to hold and stroke the animals, alongside bottle feeding the lambs. I mean, what better way the spend a Sunday than cuddling baby bunnies, eh?
Adam had to prise the baby chick from my hands we’d finished at Pets Corner, we enjoyed a ride on the tractor. Well, behind the tractor in a trailer as it may have been somewhat impractical otherwise. Driving through the fields, we took in the views and made a pit stop to feed the donkeys, which H adored.
Last up, we stopped by the reptile house to see giant snakes, frogs and turtles. After that, H took a fancy to a pink sequin snake toy in the gift shop so I bought one for her to take home, along with an obligatory magnet featuring a cow to add to my fridge collection (sadly, my calf friend was far too big to smuggle home in my bag *le sigh*).
Eventually, it was time to go home but not before making a trip to the farm ice creamery next door. You can actually see the ice cream being made in the cow sheds and we couldn’t possibly leave without sampling it. There were lots of flavours available, from vanilla to bubble gum and the prices were reasonable too; I paid about £8 for two drinks and three ice cream cones.
A few people on TripAdvisor have complained that the entry fee was pricey but
they are wrong I have to disagree. We stayed at the farm for more than six hours in the end and it was worth every single penny. Have you visited Smithills Open Farm before?