There’s no secret how much we love visiting West Lodge Farm Park, from days out with friends through to enjoying their amazing events. So as soon as we found out it was safe for them to reopen, we couldn’t wait to book our slot.
I hope this little post will help anyone nervous about heading out with the family now lockdown is easing, reassure you about the steps they’ve taken to make it as safe as possible, and give you an idea about what to expect.
I’ve still not taken Lily anywhere near a supermarket, but we’ve ventured out to the local family-run garden centre and to National Trust Calke Abbey, and so it was lovely to head to West Lodge Farm Park for our first weekend “adventure” together this weekend.
Please note, these details are correct as of June 2020
Booking your tickets is now done online. Anyone who is heading to West Lodge Farm Park needs to book a timeslot, either 9.30am-1pm or 1pm-5.30pm. This helps them limit numbers into the farm park, and still gives you plenty of time to enjoy your visit – just please don’t turn up right now without booking in advance.
Tickets are also reduced right now for non-members, at £4.95 per person with under 2s free (price correct June 7th 2020) – and it is well worth the price to enjoy everything on offer, despite some of the areas being closed.
Arrival is as normal through the gift shop area, however there are social distancing measures to make sure only one family is allowed through at a time. There was only one family in front of us and as we went through, another arrived behind us, so although there was a steady flow of arrivals, no one was close to each other.
You check in at the desk with one of their very lovely (as always) staff members, and then head through into the farm park. We paid an extra £1 for the fairy trail sheet, and there were some free maps to show you the trails around the fields, as well as some scavenger hunt sheets which Lily absolutely loved – especially the minibeasts and leaves ones!
West Lodge Farm Park is made up of 500 acres of stunning grounds, with walks suitable for all the family. It is perfect for a socially-distanced walk with the family or a place to meet up safely with friends and there is so much to explore.
There are short walks of around 600m through the beautiful caterpillar tunnel, through to The Big Walk which is 2.8km. There are around 6 trails of different distances, all suitable for the family, well-marked with clear signs, and you can add the trails together to do longer walks together. We added on the 1km Fairy Trail, where you search for the numbered mushrooms and you get a little prize at the end for collecting the correct colours – Lily was so excited!
She also loved searching for minibeasts and the different leaves on the scavenger sheets from the reception area – she had taken her own little magnifying glass so was in her element.
We took a detour on one of the routes to head to one of our favourite places – the fairies in the trees and the Witches House in the woods. You do need to cross a steep wooden staircase and bridge to get to it, but if you are able to access it then it is a lovely little hideaway – especially the little fairy doors and mushrooms in the trees – so special!
Lily also enjoys heading down through the trees to explore the butterflies and visit the Troll Bridge! We sat and had a lovely picnic by the fossils on the way too. Such a quiet place to explore!
And the best bit about the walks? We barely crossed anyone! Although there were others on the trails, there were so few families there and everyone was so spread out that it was a safe and beautiful place to enjoy and explore together.
The beautiful animals are another reason we love to head back to West Lodge, so seeing the joy on Lily’s face to see animals up close for the first time in months, I could not have been happier. My surgery in January, followed by a cast on until lockdown, meant we’ve not been since their Christmas Experience, so she was in her absolute element.
For months she has been asking to go and see the bunny rabbits, so despite the cuddle corner not being open right now, she was so excited to see them bounding around outdoors. We saw the peacocks, baby chicks, Guinea Pigs, baby piglets, lambs and the famous West Lodge goats. We passed cows in the fields on our walk and so many beautiful birds. Although we couldn’t feed them right now, we were so happy to see the animals again.
The farm park also has a lovely area for den building by the picnic benches, where families can use the trees, branches and toadstools to enjoy building their own dens.
The facilities (as of June 7th 2020)
The toilets and baby change facilities outside are open, which I saw being spray-disinfected several times when we were there, and they were all extremely clean.
The play areas both indoors and outdoors are closed, as are the barrel rides and tractor rides.
The cafe and restaurants are also closed, however the Udder Place has a huge variety of drinks, foods and ice creams available for takeaway. I was very impressed with the coffee!
There are plenty of distanced and regularly cleaned picnic benches for you to enjoy a picnic or your treats from the takeaway too, making it a perfect day out with the family.
The gift shop is also still open on the way out, with clear markings on the floor to keep anyone there apart.
Thank you West Lodge
I genuinely could not stop smiling the whole time we were there. It felt “normal”, we felt free, and (sorry to sound cheesy) to see Lily skipping through the fields without a care in the world, and getting SO excited to see animals again, I was genuinely buzzing with happiness.
I cannot recommend visiting West Lodge Farm Park enough, whether you’re ready to head back right now or if you are heading to one of their events when they are able to start up again. Not only is it an incredible place, but the staff are just so friendly. They take their time to talk to you, genuinely love those animals, and always have a smile on their faces.
Thank you to everyone at West Lodge Farm Park for opening your doors safely again and for giving me and Lily such a fantastic visit once again. See you again soon!