We recently had the pleasure of visiting Monk Park Farm. In fact, we visited in April and more recently this past weekend. A visit to a play farm is like a right of passage for any parent – I am yet to find one that hasn’t taken their little cherubs to one.
Who doesn’t love a good farm visit? Okay, maybe vegetarians and vegans might have an issue with it – so maybe this post isn’t for you. But for us, educating the girls as to where food comes from and farming is important. If visiting a play farm and larking around does that in some way then I see nothing wrong with it.
Over our near 16 years of being parents we have visited numerous play farms – let’s see if I can name a few:
- Cannon Hall Farm, Barnsley
- Foal Farm, Anglesey
- Big Sheep Little Cow, Bedale
- Playdale Farm Park, Scarborough
- Ponderosa, Heckmondwike
- Temple Newsom Farm, Leeds
I just know there are more, but these are the ones I can definitely name as certainties.
Most of them are working along the same lines; you are free to roam around barns, purchase a bag of feed, feed the animals and there’s an outdoor play area. Many now also have indoor straw bale play areas too and of course, there’ll be a cafe. It goes without saying – they all have a gift shop! The one from this list that sticks out as being different is Big Sheep Little Cow. Here you are given a guided walk through the farm, culminating in washing a huge pig. It’s a bit different.
Monk Park Farm, near Thirsk, is very much in the “usual” category of play farms.
Why Monk Park Farm
Monk Park Farm is located about 25 minutes drive from us. It’s just off the A170 a few miles east of Thirsk. Living here for 5 years we recently decided we should really make more effort to visited these places that are on our doorstep.
We first went during the Easter school holidays. The teenagers were otherwise busy doing whatever it is teenagers do so we headed there with the younger two girls. With Verity’s love of animals, it was sure to be a hit with at least her. Our second visit was this past weekend for Verity’s birthday
What’s on offer at Monk Park Farm
While Monk Park Farm may not be as elaborate as the likes of Cannon Hall, it still offers visits an awful lot. In fact, in many ways, it reminds me of how Canon Hall was when it first opened and has grown over the years.
After paying for your entry at the kiosk you are almost guided straight into the single barn that houses various animals. When we first visited at Easter it was still very much lambing season so lambs were in their abundance along with kid goats and calves too.
There’s a large guinea pig enclosure that is home to huge group* of guinea pigs. You cat sit and pet a guinea pig until your heart’s content (or until the guinea pig has had enough and jumps off).
*On a side note, I looked up the collective noun for guinea pigs and it is in fact, and rather disappointingly, just a “group”
On our visits, there were feeding sessions for both the calves and the lambs – the latter taking place just outside. When we went for the second time we were the first visitors there so as they were letting out a week old kid goat one of the staff asked Delilah and Verity if they’d like to feed her so they did.
Often there are goats and a huge pig wandering around as well as chickens too. On our second visit, one of the alpacas was in residence with her week-old cria (yes, that’s the name for a baby alpaca).
In another section of the barn is a straw bale play area with rope swings and basketball hoops. It’s okay but I do think it could be far better given I have seen some fantastic ones at other farms.
The play area
The play area is large and there’s something for all ages. I will say it does look a bit tired and in need of some updating and I’m sure they have this in their plans. As well as the play equipment there is also a huge sandpit that’s a hit with younger kids.
Adjacent to the play area is two go-kart tracks. On our first visit, we found a number of the karts weren’t working properly but on our return the appeared to have been repaired. Sadly it’s for under 12s only so I wasn’t able to join in.
The play area is also where kids can board the barrel train that sets off at certain times and takes them on a circuit of the farm. This does cost an extra £1.50 per child.
The outdoor paddocks
Walking down past the play area you walk between paddocks containing goats, alpaca, highland cattle and other cattle too. In these areas, you don’t have contact with the animals and to feed the goats you use feed shutes.
The agility of goats never ceases to amaze me. Goats seem to be in abundance at Monk Park Farm. In fact, if you have ever watched The Yorkshire Vet on Channel 5, you may well have seen Julian or Peter tending to one of the goats here.
At the bottom end of the park, there is a large lake with plenty of waterbirds in residence. Black swans, ducks and geese are everywhere.
Although not tame, if you sit for long enough you can get close to these birds – although I maybe got a little too close to this gaggle of geese!
Adjacent to the lake is a zip wire for the kids and a wooden castle fort. Sadly, on both out visits this fort appeared to be fenced off. There is a small play area with swings a little further down too.
Beyond the lake, there are more paddocks, one with wallabies. Sadly, they seem rather shy and didn’t come very close.
The amenities at Monk Park Farm
The amenities at Monk Park Parm are all in the building complex around the small courtyard through which you enter the farm. There’s an old tractor there that is just perfect for that photo op!
On both our visits we have taken a picnic so it’s not possible for me to review the quality of the food available at Monk Park Farm. However, on our first visit, it was a little cool so we did purchase some hot drinks, including hot chocolates for the girls. I had a coffee that, were it not for me being a tight Yorkshireman, I would have poured down the drain it was so terrible.
What is great is that there is an indoor area with tables and sofas where you can eat your picnic, as well as the few outdoor picnic benches too. On a cooler day that was ideal and very much welcome.
The toilets are located near to the entrance in the same building block as the cafe and gift shop. I’ve checked with Helen and I can report that the ladies and gents toilets were clean and acceptable.
“Small but perfectly formed” would be a great summary for this little gift shop at Monk Park Farm.
There’s the usual selection of soft toys and farming related toys to choose from. To my surprise, the prices seemed very reasonable and they certainly aren’t milking parents dry here.
As well as the gifts and toys this is also where you can buy ice cream too. I can confirm they do some lovely ice cream!
The staff at any visitor attraction are what can make or break the experience. I have to say that the staff at Monk Park Farm are lovely and friendly. There are a number of younger, teenage, staff around the barn but they are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and good with kids.
There is ample free parking available at Monk Park Farm with only a short walk to the entrance.
Value for money
Monk park farm is open every day from 10am to 5pm from February through to November.
- Adults: £7.50
- Children (2-15 years): £6.50
- Senior Citizens: £6.50
- Students (ID required): £6.50
- Family ticket 2+2: £26.00
- Family ticket 2+3: £32.00
- Family ticket 2+4: £37.50
It’s really great that Monk Park Farm acknowledge that families come in different sizes. For us, the 2+4 family ticket is a very rare thing indeed so I thank them for that. Although, the 2+2 is still better value, as this saves £2 over the individual prices, whereas the 2+3 and 2+4 tickets only save £1.50. Yes, I know I am being pedantic here but these things do matter.
Overall, Monk Park Farm is value for money in my opinion. Yes, there are some areas that they could improve (not just the coffee!) but it is still a great venue for a fun family day out that isn’t going to break the bank. While I do advocate days out of the “free” variety I do appreciate a venue that keeps costs reasonable for parents.
Having read through many reviews of Monk Park Farm on Trip Advisor it seems many others share my views on the run-down appearance in some areas. Some reviews are quite scathing but I think that is a little unfair. I would urge the owners of Monk Park Farm to address these areas as a priority.
Thanks for reading