[Ad – all opinions are my own.] We were recently invited to Lee Valley Park Farms for their conservation week. I didn’t realise until afterwards but we must have been there on their first day reopening after the winter!
Like most children, my girls adore animals and we love visiting local farms and discovering new ones. I was unsure what to expect at Lee Valley Park Farms, but it sounded like there would be plenty to occupy us all, and we were not disappointed. We stayed for around three hours and didn’t even make it down to the dairy or into the soft play area – can’t be avoided during the week, I’m not willingly putting myself there at the weekend too when there’s outdoor fun to be had instead!
When we arrived I was surprised to see how little the car park was, which gave me the impression that the farm itself wasn’t going to be huge – but actually it was sprawling!
Lee Valley Park Farms Review, in Waltham Abbey
The entrance building is home to ‘reception’, where you can pick up tickets, grab souvenirs, and it also houses the main cafe. We arrived early as the farm was just opening and it was relatively quiet at that time.
We headed through to the park itself which we decided to explore at leisure, not really using the map to guide us. The day marked a bit of a milestone for us – our first family trip without the pushchair! – so, since we had little legs to consider, we wanted to take it slow.
The Animals at Lee Valley Park Farms
The first animals we came across were the rabbits and guinea pigs which were housed opposite each other.
Their enclosures were great, affording lots of space to roam, and we spent quite a while watching them as Pixie and Elfin were in awe. It’s funny how the least exotic creatures – one being native and both often kept as pets – were probably the ones that most thrilled the girls!
The giant rabbits in particular were beautiful and enormous and as we finally decided to move on we realised that our trail continued through their pen! We couldn’t have timed our encounter any better because as we were standing by them their keeper came by to put food down. He was great with the girls and encouraged them to cross the ropes and stroke the rabbits which were nearly as big as Elfin!
In some ways this was the most simple part of the day, yet it was unquestionably also the best (for me and Elfin anyway). The opportunity to get so close to the rabbits was clearly very precious for the girls and I’m sure they’ll cherish the memory. Well, hopefully Pixie will anyway.
We moved on to the falconry display and I was really impressed with both the knowledge and enthusiasm of the guy handling the birds. I’m not sure the girls were quite so enthused as the show involved sitting still and listening (not my girls’ greatest strengths), but when the owls came out Elfin was beside herself! (We have several owl story books at home which we read daily.)
Lee Valley Park Farms Play Area
In the picnic area behind the falconry display there’s a small cafe (closed while we were there) and lots of play equipment which kept us busy for a while.
Lee Valley Park Farms Eating Facilities
Pixie and Elfin enjoyed climbing and after working up an appetite, we decided to head for some lunch.
When we returned to the cafe for a bite to eat it was starting to get busy! We must have timed it perfectly as we ended up sharing our table and as we were leaving I think people were beginning to struggle for seating. However, there are also lots of outdoor tables which overlook the beautiful surroundings and in a few more weeks, as the weather improves, it will be the perfect spot for lunch.
We continued around the farm to see the farm animals, the meerkats, and ‘Critter Corner’; plus there were more play activities to discover too.
It was a great mix of animals and apparatus, which did a sterling job of holding the interest of two people with rather short attention spans.
Just as I thought we’d seen everything, Pixie announced we’d not yet found Ho Ho’s reindeer (there was a sign near the beginning of the farm that mentioned them), and I consulted the map to discover there was still a whole other area we’d not found.
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We weaved our way between fields holding ponies, sheep, and cattle; I imagine if there had been a lot of rain it might have been a different story, but Elfin managed well on the terrain despite being a little bit unsteady on her feet!
Finally we made it to Pixie’s favourite part of the day: Rudolph and his pals. (She was most distressed that they were missing from the North Pole and we had to promise we’d write a letter to send to Ho Ho when we got home so he’d know they weren’t lost!)
We had a lovely family day despite not doing everything on offer, such as the crafts. There’s lots of variety at Lee Valley Park Farms, so activities can be tailored to different ages and interests.
My girls would love to go back and I’m sure they’d love it just as much in several years time. If we lived closer to Waltham Abbey we’d definitely be making it one of our regular haunts.