This weekend we were determined to make the most of the weather, no matter if it was blazing sunshine or pouring with rain (being the UK it would probably be the latter). So for most of the week I had been looking for something local that didn’t cost a fortune and that had indoor and outdoor facilities. When suddenly in my local paper I stumbled across a big advert for the National Forest Adventure Farm. Now, I’ve lived up here for over 20 years but had never head of the National Forest Adventure Farm but one look at their website had me convinced it was going to be a great day out.
The National Forest Adventure Farm is set in Tatenhill just outside Burton Upon Trent in Staffordshire. It has over 500 acres of farmland for kids to explore and is still a working farm. There are animals to see including petting the small animals, pig racing, lamas, pony grooming, an outdoor fun zone full of trampolines, go-karts, bouncy castles, sandpits, adventure play areas and then a huge indoor play barn which has two drop slides, a traditional wave slide and a enormous soft play centre for babies right through to early teens.
We set off with wellies and a spare potty in the car in case Roo got caught short, a spare change of clothes and some snacks to keep the fires fueled on our farm adventure. The journey was quick taking no longer than 40 minutes and it was easily signposted as soon as we left the A38.
The website is really well set out and we were able to find out the cost of getting in before we left and for the three of us it was £26 which compared to a lot of other family attractions, for a whole day out (the park is open 10am – 6pm) is pretty decent value for money. On arrival it was refreshing to see they were set up for taking card payment as a lot of smaller attractions are usually cash only and this always catches us out. We grabbed a bag of animal food and an activity sheet about the Easter games and crafts that were on for the day and off we went.
Roo was immediately drawn by the big bull bouncy castle and we promised she could have a go after we had seen the animals. We headed for the animal barn and I spied some cool John Deere tractor trikes for her to go on later in the picnic hay barn. The selection of animals was really good and there were lots of spring lambs, baby chicks and a very vocal baby cow who made Roo a bit scared a first as he was so loud but soon she was feeding him and the lambs and loving the feel of their tongues on her hand.
My favourite had to be the Mangalitza pig who was comically a cross between a pig and poodle and as another mum said to me later her little girl called him “afro pig”. I had never see one of these before and Roo thought it was great when the pigs started playing football in their pen. We walked up to see the lamas and the goats and also the reindeer on the farm.
Then it was time for the bouncy castle. Roo had only been on a bouncy castle once before so I wasn’t sure if she would enjoy it but she kicked her wellies off and dived right in. There were loads of benches for parents to sit on and keep little ones in sight, something that is important I think to most parents. Before long there was this smiling faced toddler zooming down the slide at the other end squealing with delight. There were other children on there and kids in their little way all joined in together and soon they were having a right game of racing across each section of the bouncer and down the slide.
At this point I needed a drink so we headed off inside to the restaurant area which stocked a huge array of homecooked traditional food including lasagne, sandwiches, baked potato, shepherds pie, soups and gorgeous scrummy cakes! I was good and settled just for a hot chocolate which it the spot nicely. Inside the restaurant is the biggest soft play centre and activity zone I had ever seen. It had a separate area for babies and kids under 5 and then children who are 4 years old or more than 90 cm tall are allowed to use what I will describe as the funhouse and scare slides. The big play frame and funhouse is manned with staff who do really well in helping to keep an extra pair of eyes on kids that shouldn’t be up on the slides or who have lost a sibling or parent and parents are actively encouraged to join in with their kids on the apparatus and in the five hours – yes five hours – we were there we never saw one child out of control or an accident. Hats off to the staff.
Roo absolutely loved this part of the day, she simply threw herself into everything – taking on ramps, ball pits, drop slides and helter skelters on her own with loads of encouragement from us and I’ve never seen her do so much running around. She played great with the other kids and didn’t even want to stop for lunch. I managed to grab her to get a drink but all other attempts at sustenance apparently thwarted the adventures of the little superhero and it was quite honestly the best 5 hours she’d had out and about for ages.
National Forest Adventure Farm, Staffordshire
Kids just need space to run around and let off steam and this gives them the perfect opportunity to do that. They are supervised and mums and dads can let them burn all that energy off whilst relaxing with a good cup of tea or coffee. Perfect for everyone.
There is loads of seating for parents who can catch up with friends and relax knowing their kids cannot go anywhere and are pretty safe in what they are doing. If you want to join in the fun then there are lockers for you to store your bags safely. Facilities are clean and tidy and toilets were spotless – with even 3 cubicles with toddler training seats, disabled toilets and baby changing facilities. For older kids there are go karts as well and even little toddlers can do go-karts as there are adult assisted one and Roo loved having a go.
When it was time to go, we exited via the shop – always a slight nightmare for parents who have just convinced their child to leave but are then faced with more tempting items which can cause a full child meltdown. It was refreshing to see that the shop sold a lot of traditional toys such as kites, wooden cars and lorries, gliders, bats and balls, nature kits, farm toys as well as the usual pens and pencils. We managed to avoid the majority of toys and Roo settled on a pencil and rubber to add to her collection of pencils and she gleefully clutched these all the way to the car.
Within five minutes of pulling out the car park she was fast asleep in the back of the car – and stayed that way all the way home. She was absolutely exhausted from her day out, and I am not surprised after the energy she had burnt off and it was no surprise that she slept through till 8am the next day.
I honestly cannot find a single thing to fault about the National Forest Adventure Farm. It is excellent value for money and offers a lot to do for babies, toddlers and young children in a really safe, secure and exciting environment. The tractor rides were always packed out and they do various events throughout the year to celebrate certain occasion meaning there is always something going on. I love the fact they do an annual ticket which costs £40 per person and gives you unlimited entry. Bearing in mind in total we spent £30 on our day out we would only have to go 3 – 4 times a year to get value for money out of an annual ticket and I can see the play barn being a firm favourite for a long time with Roo – plus from June onwards there is the amazing maize maze to drive kids and adults crazy!
The National Forest Adventure Farm website contains all the information on how to get there, prices and attractions and you can also find them on Facebook and twitter to keep up with their latest news.