Since the little beauty that is Phoebe was born, weekends have become even more precious than they were before. Weekends are for family time, to forget about the stresses of Monday to Friday and enjoy ourselves in the family bubble. On Sunday we took a trip to Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley and had a wail of a time! Here’s how we got on.
First things first, it’s dead easy to get to, only a few minutes off the M1, so travel is stress free unless you’ve got a screamer in the back. Phoebe loves being in the car so no issues there. Off to a good start!
I’ve apparently been here before as a child myself, but couldn’t remember a thing about it so it was as much a new experience for me as it was for anyone else. The first green tick goes to the staff on the car park. This was incredibly organised and despite being pretty busy, parking was a breeze thanks to the stewards directing traffic, even if I did nearly mow one of them down. Parking is £3 which is fine, but you can also redeem your parking fee back in the restaurant if you spend £10 or more, which is even better.
The entrance is a short walk from the parking areas, along safe walkways. Before you get to the farm itself you’ll pass a lovely restaurant which is great for a bite to eat or a drink out in the sun. If you time your visit right you can eat either before or after you’ve visited the park. The Farm Shop is round here too, selling produce made on the farm.
As you go in and buy your tickets (a bargain at £7.95, if you ask me, more-so if you’ve enough people to get a family ticket which saves a few quid), be sure to get an events list. There’s loads going on at various times during the day. We managed to check out the ferret racing, sheep racing (yes, really) and cow milking sessions. None of the sessions clash so be sure to have a team talk before you get stuck in then you’ve got at least half a plan.
In among the various activities that are going on, you’ll want to make sure you see the animals, after all you’ve come to a farm. The farm is really well laid out and flows nicely. You start out at the petting area where there’s rabbits and guinea pigs to look at, stroke etc. The majority will be in their appropriate pens but the friendly staff swap them over so they’re not all subjected to poky kiddy fingers all day every day. Phoebe LOVED the rabbit. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching animals!
Once you’ve had a good look here you move onto various barns following the tidy pathway between each barn. Here you’ll see pigs and piglets in the farrowing houses, rare breed animals such as Llamas and Alpacas (the latter looking really quite amusing following a shave, but still looking like they were wearing Ugg boots!!), you’ll see cows in the milking parlour (be sure to check out the milking demonstration, it’s really fun to watch!), goats and other farmyard cattle. If your child is old enough, they can feed the animals through a series of feeding chutes (50p a bag, and there’s various places throughout the park you can pick up food, including the entrance when you buy your tickets). Once you’re through the barns, there’s a bit of an uphill stroll back to the top of the park where you can visit the Roundhouse, full of sheep, which Phoebe enjoyed copying. “Baaaa” said the sheep, “Maaaaa” said Phoebe (for quite some time actually, you get the picture). There’s also some reindeer up there too, recuperating in time for their duties at Christmastime. Whilst up at the Roundhouse be sure to take a tractor ride round the perimiter of the farm.
The first thing we heard as we walked into one of the farrowing houses wasn’t “Oink oink”, as you might expect, but a child behind us telling their parents that they’d found the sausages!! Kids say the funniest things, and I’m sure Phoebe G will be no different once she starts talking. Wifey was in her element as we went through into the milking parlour. For some bizarre reason she’s always wanted a pet cow, and spent a few minutes picking out which one she wanted. The answer is always the same, we don’t have room for a pet cow, and can you imagine the mess? Mean husband or what?
I can’t comment too much on the play areas as Phoebe isn’t old enough for that sort of thing but it’s a pretty epic setup just looking in from the outside. Some seriously cool looking slides etc and I’m sure when PG grows up we’ll be able to spend happy hours there. There’s also a tube maze, which I wanted to go in, but again, need a slightly older child!!
The loos by the play gym and Hungry Llama restaurant also deserve a special mention. These loos were better than our bathroom at home! Really tidy, clean and well looked after.
I’ve read some really quite unfair reviews of Cannon Hall Farm on Tripadvisor, and I think most people had the wrong expectation when they visited. One reviewer was very arrogant when commenting about the fact you can’t feed animals out of your hands. Whilst this is obviously good fun, do bear in mind this is a farm, and with the recent E-Coli outbreaks I think Cannon Hall Farm’s attitude to hygiene is spot on, so don’t take any of the negative reviews too seriously. Various people also complained about the parking charges. As I mention above, you can get this back when eating in the restaurant which most families will do, so this should be disregarded too.
A big well done to everyone at Cannon Hall Farm. Thanks for a super day out. We’ll definitely visit again!