As businesses and visitor attractions slowly start up again following the coronavirus lockdown some places are finding times tough. Monk Park Farm near Thirsk has been hard hit – something many open farms like it have found nationwide. But, they are opening again by diversifying the attraction and allowed people to drive around the park in their cars.
We’ve visited Monk Park Farm a few times before and always enjoyed it there. On Father’s Day recently we decided to try out the self-drive safari that they had advertised on their Facebook page. In fact, it was only their second day of being open again when we went.
As we drove down the long driveway we saw quite a few cars packed up on the field adjacent to the car park (where there were no cars). It turned out these we customers of the takeaway cafe on the site, we would try that later. We drove straight around to the big tractor tyres on the ground where a man with an orange bucket was stood.
Keeping the appropriate 2m distance, it was a simple transaction, without leaving our car. Drop a £10 note into the bucket and grab the bag of food in exchange. Then, drive through to the farmyard to start your journey.
It felt a bit weird driving onto the farm, somewhere we’ve been before but certainly not in a car. It was all very familiar, but the site of the playground cordoned off and not a person in sight, it was clearly not normal. But the animals didn’t seem to mind.
Starting at a small “popup” pen on with some lambs and kid goats you then drive down the track past goats, sheep, cows and alpacas. The ground was firm and mostly gravel, though later on there was some softer ground.
Even with my expert driving to get close to the fences you had to throw the food to the animals. Except for the alpacas who were quite intrigued by all the cars and happily poked their heads into the open windows.
It was only day 2 of this safari being open, and some of the farm’s animals were a bit shy but the goats seemed to have picked up the routine pretty well.
Actually, a little too well.
A couple of cars ahead of us we saw a small, white goat climbing through the fence towards the hand throwing it food. It was free! The male passenger of the car proceeded to jump out and try to help the goat back into the paddock. After a couple of hesitant attempts to approach the animal, he finally picked it up and safely returned it to its friends. It was pretty funny sight and our girls couldn’t stop laughing.
In all seriousness though I don’t think this chap should have done this. Clearly he meant well and didn’t want the goat to come to any harm, but maybe a quick call to the office would have been a better option to avoid either the goat or himself getting injured.
We drove farther onto the farm than we’d ever walked before. Past the lake, admiring the Belted Gallway and Highland Cattle, we felt we were really off-roading so I put the car into 4×4 mode. Regular 2-wheel drive cars would be fine, but I figured that as I have it may as well use it.
It was a really nice drive right around the far end of the farm and through a wooded section where there weren’t any animals to see. But it was a nice, slow drive.
When we emerged from the wooded area were near the wallabies – who sat quite happily staring at us as we stared at them.
On emerging from the safari we parked up on the field and ordered some food from the cafe. I find the prices for their food quite reasonable and we paid £27 for 2 1/2lb burgers, 2 jumbo hot dogs, 2 hot-beef baguettes with chips, an extra tray of chips and a can of pop each.
Obviously, unlike visiting the farm under normal circumstances, there’s no real option of staying to make a day of it. It is what it is and that’s something to do to spend a couple of hours out. It was nice to be able to support them during this difficult time. Let’s hope that normal life returns soon and we can visit the farm and have more interaction with thew animals
Monk Park Farm can be found near Thirsk in North Yorkshire.
The price of entry for the farm safari is £10 per car. Payment is in cash only and I would advice having the exact amount to make life simple and help keep everyone safe. You do get a bag of food included with this entry price and we found it was enough to last the whole way around.
Well done Monk Park Farm for diversifying and finding a way to open and provide something for people to do.
Thanks for reading.