Sunny spring and summer days spent with friends used to be marked by heading to the beer garden of a lovely pub for a cold drink and some good food. We'd sit there for hours, chatting til the sun went down and, when we were ready, head home. There was no thought of scheduling in naptimes, bringing twenty three different kinds of healthy snacks (just in case), packing as if you're heading out for three weeks. Yes, our (now) child-filled days are planned with precision and packed for in advance and mostly completely lovely. As was our day out to Sacrewell Heritage Farm.
We were due to meet some equally child-laden friends at Sacrewell. This Farm and Mill, just outside of Peterborough, is about two hours from London and an hour and a half from Birmingham. Unfortunately, we didn't check the details on the website en route, we just popped the postcode in to our satnav. This is precisely what the website says not to do as it'll take you to the nearest village, rather than the farm. My advice read the directions here. The Farm is just at the junction of the A1 and A47 and is well signposted so, if you do ignore your satnav, it's actually very easy to find. When you get there, there's loads of parking in the field at the front of the farm.
Sacrewell is open every day of the week for most of the year, from 9.30am-5.30pm. Tickets cost £7.50 for adults and was free for our under two. Tickets for children aged two to sixteen cost £5.40. There are different opening hours during the winter months and family tickets too, that work out a little cheaper.
As you walk in there's a little café to the left that sells all the usual. Sandwiches and fruit and snacks for the kids in case you run out. There is hot food and sandwiches for adults, cakes, teas and real coffee. Of course if you want to save a bit of money bring a picnic as there are lovely places to sit when you're in the farm itself.
This is a beautiful farm set in the Cambridgeshire countryside. The vistas all around are really stunning and the animals feel well looked after. I'm not really one for zoos where animals are kept in small cages and Sacrewell is not that. Sacrewell is an agricultural charity that prides itself on its facilities. There are plenty of grazing paddocks where the animals are kept that the kids can explore. Home to all sorts of farmyard favourites, we saw donkeys, sheep, tiny lambs, alpaca, pigs, rabbits, chickens, guinea pigs, roosters and much more.
There are peacocks, ducks and geese (and more) wandering around the farm, too. There's plenty of open space, greenery and a lovely little stream running along by the old mill. Visitors are encouraged to drop some coins in the stream, and the money then goes to help with the upkeep of the farm.
We paid an extra £1.50 for a tractor ride which I'd definitely recommend and was well worth the money. It takes you on a tour of the farm and grounds, going further than you are likely to explore on your own. My friend's two year old thought it was just the best thing ever. Even my one year old loved it (until he fell asleep at least).
There is also the 'Playbarn' where kids can burn off enough energy to make them pretty tired by bedtime. It only opened in spring 2014 and it's really well equipped. There's a mud-slide, farm themed play equipment as well as swings, slides and a maze.
Sacrewell has an 18th century watermill that you can walk around and learn a bit about how farming used to be. I learnt how 'horsepower' and 'manpower' are actually defined which I didn't know. Take a look when you go!
Sacrewell also has a rich history. Excavations at the farm have uncovered two Roman villas along with broken pottery and coins dating to 43AD. In 1086, Sacrewell mill is mentioned in the Domesday Book. For a bit more about its history, have a look here
We visited during the school holidays, so there were also plenty of families camping here.
Overall, I'd really recommend Sacrewell for a family day out with the kids. There's plenty to do and see for the kids. And for me, it was great to switch the city for the countryside for a few hours.