10 free farms to keep the kids busy this half term

Keep them amoo-sed over the holidays with a trip to your local farmyard

By Harriette Casey, 31 January 2017
10 free farms to keep the kids busy this half term

With half-term on the approach, the pressure to come up with fun activites that will keep your little ones entertained without breaking the bank grows. You might have already planned a full day of crafts or a fun trip to the local pool, but there are sure to be days to spare. 

To give you some inspiration for a few inexpensive family days out, we've rounded up the best free farms to visit in the UK. 

Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh 

This idyllic Scottish community farm is situated close to Tynecastle in Edinburgh. With animal feeding and petting and a beautiful wildlife garden brimming with wild insects, beasts and birds, 'visitors can get up close to the animals and get a valuable understanding of how a real farm works'. 

Not to be missed: 'We've recently welcomed some new additions to the farm, Mangalitsa pigs - that are woolly like sheep, but really are pigs,' says Helen Syme, Corporate Fundraising Officer. 

Mudchute Farm, London 

Set in 32 acres of countryside in the heart of East London, Mudchute farm provides a relaxing city escape. With a variety of animals from turkeys to alpacas, and with animal feed available from £1, it's fun for all the family. 

Not to be missed: Pop into Mudchute Kitchen, set in the courtyard overlooking the horses, for their famous breakfast. 

Kentish Town City Farm, London

Also situated in London, this city farm in Gospel Oak near Camden, looks after over 50 animals including Champ, a Welsh cob horse. Some of the top attractions include a wildlife pond, community garden and paddock. Art activities are run regularly and children over the age of four can take part in pottery classes for £4 per child. 

Not to be missed: Weather-permitting, children over four can enjoy pony rides on Saturdays and Sundays for £2 a ride (check the website for more details). 

Bill Quay Community Farm, Gateshead 

This 25 acre farm is a Rare Breeds Survival Trust Approved Farm Park, home to a variety of endangered breeds including Tamworth pigs, rare sheep and goats. The treasured green space is supported by volunteers from the local community and has a host of woodland walks and trails. 

Not to be missed: If you can, pop along to one of the farm arts and crafts events on site. 

Old Holly Farm, Preston 

This working dairy farm has lots of interactive activities for kids, with everything from donkey rides to chick and rabbit petting. Younger children will love playing in the indoor play area and watching the cows being milked at the end of the day. Stop off at the traditional stone courtyard café for a slice of tea bread or a Mars-bar square. 

Not to be missed: Taste-test some Coolcow ice cream, in a range of flavours from Blackcurrant & Cream to Cappuccino, made using the farm cows' own organic milk. 

Windmill Hill City Farm, Bristol 

Situated in the heart of Bristol, Windmill Hill City Farm has a wildlife garden, pig pen, hen house, a range of paddocks for sheep and goats, as well as a community garden, picnic area, large play area for children and toddlers. The award-winning cafe is definitely worth a visit as they utilise the fresh ingredients grown in the farm's vegetable patch and greenhouse.  

Not to be missed: There are four interactive trails to complete around the farm; pick up the leaflets for each one from reception or download and print them beforehand from the website. 

Stonebridge City Farm, Nottingham 

Set up in the 1970's, this urban farm has an ever growing number of different animals including two Dexter cows; Luna and Solar, Billy the Shetland pony, Jacob ewes; Treacle and Cupcake, and Kev the tortoise who also lives in the barn. The farm makes its own honey, which is sold in the 'Trading Post' shop and staff and visitors are encouraged to grow herbs, fruit and vegetables in the farm's polytunnels. 

Not to be missed: Stop by the aviary to see the cockatiels, finches and budgerigars that live there. 

Swansea Community Farm, Swansea 

Set up by locals, this 3.5-acre farm is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am to 4pm and focuses on reconnecting people with their food and their environment. The farm is also home to a rare breed of Welsh Llanwnnog lambs. 

Not to be missed: If you're visiting in spring, see if you might be able to bottle-feed some of the farm's young lambs. 

Tam O'Shanter Urban Farm, The Wirral 

Situated on Bidston Hill on the Wirral, Tam O'Shanter historic cottage and surrounding farmland are supported by a local Trust. Children can learn about the various animals including goats, sheep, turkeys and ponies and enjoy exploring the farm's various nature trails. Events are held all year round including Easter activities and Halloween crafting. 

Not to be missed: Print off activity sheets on the website and go on a treasure hunt around the farm. 

Amerton Farm and Craft Centre, Stafford

There's plenty to do at the Amerton Farm and Craft Centre, visitors can feed the animals in the farmyard, including cows, ponies, chickens and ducks and for a small cost they can also visit the British Wildlife rescue centre that provides care to sick and injured animals, from foxes to barn owls. 

Not to be missed: If you've got some spare change hop on the Amerton Railway for a fun 10 minute trip on a diesel train - tickets are £1.50 for children and £2.20 for adults. 

* The majority of these farms are charities and so rely on the donations of vistors.