This month, our theme for homeschooling is focused around animals. In line with this, we have a number of trips planned in order for Georgi and Mae to meet different animals and learn about what they eat, their colours and their names. This week’s trip was to Bowthorpe Park Farm, located between Bourne and Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Bowthorpe Park Farm is a really lovely park farm run by a traditional family who has lived and worked the farm for five generations. The farm focuses on growing cereal crops as well as a number of livestock such as Berkshire pigs, pedigree Lincoln red cattle and Jacob sheep. The family opened the park farm to the public just over a year ago. They have two primary attractions for people to walk around at their own leisure, the Bowthorpe Oak Tree and a number of farm animals, including the above as well as goats, horses and donkeys. Bowthorpe Park Farm is only open to the public at select times of the year, every weekend and bank holiday during the summer and they also open their lambing shed during lambing season.
Bowthorpe Park Farm we found to be quite a charming little farm. Prior to arriving at the farm, we weren’t really fussed for the tree, our focus surrounded the farm animals and seeing our children’s excitement spotting each one. However, we were pleasantly surprised. The large oak tree was absolutely beautiful. Being that we visited in the summer months, its branches were full of lush green leaves and it really was the main attraction all on its own. The tree just looked so majestic, looking as if it had seen so many wonderful sites and had 1000s of stories to tell. The Bowthorpe Oak Tree is actually over 1000 years old, which I found incredible that it was still standing today. It also has the largest girth in the UK, 13.3m by 1.5m. It was such an impressive site to see and actually had quite a crucial role as it provided shelter and a home to many small animals. Unfortunately, the tree was surrounded by a wooden fence so we were unable to get up close and show my children the different textures of the tree or look for signs of which animals might live there. However, I completely agree with their decision to place a fence around the tree. With Bowthorpe Oak already being 1000 years old, it really needs looking after and preserving for future generations to see.
Once we walked around Bowthorpe Oak Tree, we then spent some time looking at the different animals on the farm and ticking them off our animal spotter sheet. Now, my daughter and I have been to a number of farm parks in the past and Bowthorpe Park Farm, by far, was the most relaxed and cleanest, plus the animals looked incredibly well cared for. We thoroughly enjoyed taking our time, leisurely walking around the farm to look at each animal. Though there was not an extensive selection of animals, I personally think that this added to its family-friendly feel. The layout was open plan, each breed had a large section outdoors to wander around and graze in. Many of the animals came across as very friendly as well, wanting to come and say hello at the fence.
During our morning, my daughter was able to tick off sheep, horse, pig, cow and goat (they also had donkeys, which was not on the original spotter sheet so we added to this). My daughter is only two, my son 11months, so it was brilliant for them to have the freedom of running around outside on the grass, with the safety aspect that each animal had its own fenced section outdoors. We were able to focus on naming each animal, matching their sounds, talking about colours and counting how many of each animal we could see. It was a perfect opportunity for my children to not feel overwhelmed, be outside and focus on just a few animals. There is also a large sandpit with buckets and spades for children to play in, which my two thoroughly enjoyed.
With regards to catering, they do not provide lunch facilities but do have a lovely selection of drinks, ice-creams and cakes. Plus, there are plenty of picnic benches provided so it is a great opportunity to relax further over a home-made family picnic. The staff at the farm were absolutely delightful. They were really kind and friendly, even my daughter picked up on this and was chatting away to them – she never chats with anyone she doesn’t know!
At the moment, the park is very excited to have announced they have a ticket only event to see an equestrian stunt rider and behaviour therapist, which includes a sit-down meal (more information to follow on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Bowthorpepark/).
Bowthorpe Park Farm remains open to the public a further few weeks during the summer. Within this time, they have a number of set events which are a great opportunity for a fun, family day out. During August bank holiday weekend (25th, 26th and 27th) the farm is hosting a family fun and craft weekend, filled with lots of activities, such as face painting, crafts and a bouncy castle, to mention a few. They will also hold a further family fun weekend in the last weekend of October, to celebrate Halloween. The park will then close for the winter months, reopening again during lambing season for people to visit the new lambs.
The family who runs Bowthorpe Park Farm have been kind enough to inform me of their future plans for the park farm. It is a working farm, so they do not wish to commercialise too much, however, they have plans for guests to be more hands-on with the animals and learn about farming. They also are considering developing a cafe for the farm, which I think would be a great addition. I am in complete agreement with their future thoughts and feel, if they commercialised too much, it would take away from the family-friendly feel and charm of the farm. Though, having a cafe and helping educate people about the animals with feeding opportunities, will help encourage guests to stay longer with more to do as well as promote the farm further.
For a lovely, relaxing family trip out, this truly is the place to go. It is a hidden gem in south Lincolnshire, perfect for families with younger children. During our time at the farm, bar one couple, we were the only family visiting and had the whole farm to ourselves. With it only being open on weekends and bank holidays during the summer, now is definitely the time to come and see this charming farm for yourself. It is a wonderful park, with a personal feel and you can see how well the animals are cared for. The family is incredibly friendly and I really feel if they go ahead with their future plans, the farm will become an even greater attraction for local families.
You can find out more here through visiting their website: http://bowthorpeparkfarm.co.uk/
If you have visited this park farm or any other local places to visit animals in Lincolnshire, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.