Yesterday, we spent a really enjoyable day at the National Forest Adventure Farm in Tatenhill, Staffordshire. The adventure farm is just one part of the National Forest area of the West Midlands and I was fascinated to learn what it was all about.
The National Forest
Over 20 years ago when the 200 square mile National Forest was created, it was an area of the Midlands that had very little woodland. The decision was made to turn it into a new area of forest where forest-based activities and woodland businesses would thrive. By October 2012, 8 million new trees had been planted in the area and the woodland continues to grow.
The National Forest Adventure Farm
The National Forest Adventure Farm started off as a Maize Maze on a family farm. It has since expanded to offer a plethora of outdoor and indoor activities for children of all ages. There are farm animals, small animals, outdoor play areas and a soft play inside. There is also a café and an undercover picnic area, making it a perfect family day out.
When we go to anywhere like this, the most important thing to me is knowing that the animals are well looked after. I can honestly say the animals at the Adventure Farm were some of the happiest I’ve seen. They all have a lovely living environment with plenty of space. The guinea pigs even have their own church! Their large living area is based on the local village.
In the animal barn, the guinea pigs are joined by various other animals including rabbits, chipmunks, pigs and chickens. The cows are inside overnight as well. There are a couple of opportunities during the day for children to gently pet the guinea pigs and rabbits. This is done under the watchful eye of staff.
Outside, you can buy animal food to feed the goats, cows, sheep, and alpacas. You can also see the ponies, reindeer, chickens and cows. All the animals are very gentle and friendly and used to people. They also live in beautiful surroundings.
At certain times of the day, you can take part in activities involving farm animals. The girls got involved with grooming the pony, but you can also watch sheep racing, collect eggs and join in with other activities in season. You can even milk a pretend cow to see how it’s done.
As well as seeing the animals up close, you can have a whistle stop tour of the farm on a tractor. It runs every hour on the hour. This was very exciting for the children, spotting all the animals and making their noises. The tractor pulls a big trailer with plenty of space for visitors to sit down and enjoy the ride.
There are various outdoor play areas with different themes. There are two large jumping pillows, which my girls were immediately attracted to. Unfortunately whilst the pillow for older children was supervised by a member of staff, the one that was for under 8’s was unsupervised.
Whilst we were there, several older children came over to the under 8’s bouncing pillow and were behaving disruptively. Understandably children are not allowed to do somersaults on there for their own safety and are expected to be considerate of other users.
Sadly without supervision, there were children much older than eight on there doing somersaults. One child in particular went out of his way to upset the younger children. Lia ended up in floods of tears and I saw another little girl coming off with a nose bleed. This would be avoided if the under 8’s bouncing pillow was supervised as well as the other one.
For the short time the girls were able to play on the under 8’s bouncing pillow, it was their favourite activity. It is definitely something that could be a real asset to the Adventure Farm if they were willing to put another member of staff on there. As it is currently, it’s dangerous.
Other outdoor activities include a large inflatable JCB that the children can bounce, climb and slide on. There are a couple of playground areas, crazy golf, an assault course and even a water fight area for the good weather.
There are little pedal go-karts to ride on and mini quad-bikes that are activated when you put a £1 coin in. There’s also a lovely little sand pit area with a little slide. Both girls enjoyed the outdoor plan and it was great to have plenty to do outside.
There is an undercover picnic area with a little cafe serving a small variety of food such as burgers. Inside, there is a larger cafe with hot and cold food and drinks. We ate here and had paninis and jacket potatoes which were all quite nice.
Next to the cafe is a big soft play area. There is a section for older children with some brilliant slides. There is also a little under fives area. Both girls were happy to play in the larger soft play and go on the slides. Libby went on the big drop slides and Lia stuck with the other slides that you go down on a mat as the drop slides are for over 4’s only.
The soft play is a really nice area with lots for them to do. Had the weather been bad, we’d have spent a lot of time in there. As it was, we preferred to make the most of the time being outdoors in the beautiful countryside.
Please note, we were invited to the National Forest Adventure Farm free of charge to allow me to write a blog post about it. All views, opinions, images and mini animal lovers are my own.