UK / ENGLAND / MANCHESTER

Review: Cockfields Farm near Manchester – more than a petting farm for children

Review: Cockfields Farm near Manchester – more than a petting farm for children

We visit Cockfields Farm in Oldham on a busy half-term day to assess this popular attraction

What is it?

Cockfields Farm is a petting farm with indoor and outdoor play areas and themed events throughout the year.

A goat at Cockfields Farm in Oldbury

Where is it?

It is in Oldham in Ashton-under-Lyne, 10 miles east of Manchester, in north-west England.

What did we think?

I was very impressed – when we went there was a fantastic wizardry Harry Potter-style event. Staff had gone to lots of trouble and expense to make it special, plus children were encouraged to dress up for it.

A boy on a mini digger with animals behind at Cockfields Farm

We ended up staying over five hours and the children loved it. Without the Harry Potter activities there would have been less to do but there are indoor and outdoor play areas including a big bouncing pillow. The weather was good which helped as we were outside for half the time.

There are a selection of animals to see including llamas, pigmy goats, pigmy hedgehogs, lizards, snakes, rabbits and guinea pigs. A relatively small collection but there are set times throughout the day where you can meet and hold them.

Bouncing pillow at Cckfields Farm

Highlights:

*The variety of activities on offer and areas to play.

*An indoor role play ‘street’ with shops, a police station and a theatre. 

Indoor role play street at Cockfields Farm

*A big bouncy ‘pillow’ outside – a mixture between a bouncy castle and a trampoline. 

Children on the bouncing pillow at Cockfields Farm

*The chance to hold some of the animals during special sessions. 

*The fantastic themed events during school holidays.

*The outdoor sandpit and play areas.

Sand pit outdoor play area at Cockfields Farm

Our video

Watch our video of our day at Cockfields Farm then read our top tips for visiting Cockfields Farm below.

Our top tips

*Check out the website to see what themed events are coming up – the Harry Potter themed week when we went was amazing.

*Get there when it opens in school holidays as it gets really busy and the car parks fill up fast, although there is a parking marshall.

*Make sure you know what time events are on throughout the day so you don’t miss something your children would enjoy.

*It is costly so plan to spend a long time here if you can, on a nice sunny day to get your money’s worth.

Swings and picnic tables at Cockfields Farm

*There is a café but to save spending extra money you can take a picnic – there are quite a few picnic benches outside.

*Some of the activities cost £1 extra including the diggers and quad bikes, so have some pound coins ready if you want to and take this extra cost into consideration when deciding whether to go. All the animal talks and interaction are included.

A girl on a quad bike on Cockfields Farm

Cockfields Farm information 

Food: There is a café or you can take a picnic – there are benches and tables outside.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am to 4.30pm. Sundays 10am to 4pm.

Cost: £8.95 per person (children under the age of one are free). Check the website for prices before you visit as they can be higher during special events. Discounts online.

Best for: Ages three to eight

Time needed: From two hours (we spent five hours there)

Access and restrictions: Flat site, no stairs

Address: Cockfields Farm, Lees Road, Oldham, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 8AR. 

Have you been? What did you think?

Tatton Park in Cheshire with children – read our review and top tips to make the most of a family visit

Tatton Park in Cheshire with children – read our review and top tips to make the most of a family visit

Read our review of all the best bits of the fabulous Tatton Park in Cheshire plus the costs for National Trust members

What is it?

Tatton Park is one of England’s largest historic estates – it has a stately home, 50 acres of landscaped gardens, 1000 acre od parkland with deer and meres. There is also a working farm and large playground.

Where is it?

Tatton Park is near Knutsford in Cheshire a few miles from junction 19 of the M6 motorway.

What do we think?

There are so many options for children on a day out here, truly something for everyone. You can explore the parkland for just £6 a day for a family – or pay extra for the other attractions.

Our highlights

The park

The park is vast with plenty of different areas to explore.

There are two large meres where sailing takes place, woodland walks with deer to spot and places to picnic.

The wide paths through the park for cars are also popular with cyclists and supervised children on bikes and scooters.

You can park at different points inside (it is £6 per car, there is no National Trust discount for parking).

The gardens

The gardens cost extra (free for National Trust members) but can be a quieter, different and beautiful area to enjoy on busy days.

They begin with fruit and vegetable patches before expanding off a central path to some fabulous areas.

Our particular favourites are around the Japanese Gardens (you can only venture inside on a guided tour) and the bridges over the pools. There is quite a tricky maze, regular family trails to follow, a fun scarecrow hunt in February, Easter Egg hunts at Easter time and other activities all year round.

Note – you are not allowed picnics, bikes or scooters in the gardens.

colourful flowers in a Japanese garden at Tatton Park

The peaceful Japanese Garden at Tatton Park

The farm

A five-minute walk from the main car park is Tatton Park farm. Entry is £7 for adults, £5 for children (half price for NT members). It is a traditional 1930’s working farm with pigs, horses, donkey and chickens.

There are old tractors to sit on and Aunt Mary’s 1940’s cottage. In one barn you can ride on toy cars and tractors.

Next to the farm is a good adventure playground, picnic area and woodland trails.

pigs and piglets walking at a farm

Pigs are just one of the animals at Tatton’s working farm

The mansion

Home to the Egerton family, the house contains a huge library and other artefacts.

The main interest for children is exploring the large servants’ kitchen and living quarters, which are nicely done. The mansion is used for events at Easter and Christmas geared to children.

Child-friendly facilities

There is a huge playground next to the main car park which is always very busy.

There is often a small train to take children from the playground to the farm (at a cost). Burger and ice cream vans are on site too.

In the main stables courtyard near the garden’s entrance there is often a couple of carousels (£2.50 a go). There are also two restaurants – a large self-service area and the smaller Gardeners’ Cottage.

National Trust

Unlike most National Trust sites, National Trust members still have to pay to park at Tatton Park, which costs £6, unless you park in Knutsford and walk in, but it is quite a walk to the main part.

However, entry to the house and gardens is free to National Trust members and entry to the farm is half price.

Conclusion

Tatton Park is geared towards children – you can have fun here without entering any of the paid attractions but if you do choose – the farm and gardens are the best value.

Our top tips

*Enter Tatton Park from the smaller, less-used Knutsford entrance and you can drive through the park to get a feel for it and park next to Melchett Mere for a good picnic spot.

Tatton Park information

Food: Picnics are welcome, except in the gardens. There are two cafes/restaurants in the courtyard, near the garden’s entrance – a large self service area called the Stables Restaurant, perfect for children and the smaller and more formal Gardeners’ Cottage. There is also a shop selling ice creams.

Opening hours: It varies depending on the time of year and the farm is open at more limited times, check here for details.

Cost: Car parking costs £7 (even to National Trust members). A Totally Tatton family ticket to all attractions is £33. Adult ticket £7 per attraction, child (aged four to 15) £5. National Trust members – free entry to gardens and mansion, half-price entry to farm.

Best for: ages three to 10.

Time needed: Doing every attraction is a full day out. Visiting the park for a walk or bike ride can be done in 90 minutes.

Access and restrictions: All Tatton’s shops and the Stables Restaurant are fully accessible to wheelchair users. Electric buggies (gardens only) and manual wheelchairs are available for loan but can not be used to move between attractions and in the park. Book a wheelchair loan on 01625 374400.

Address: Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN.

Have you been to Tatton Park? Do you like it as much as we do? Let us know in the comments.

(Pictures in this article are courtesy of National Trust Images and Tatton Park).

Our top tips to get the most from a family day out at Dunham Massey in Altrincham, Cheshire

Our top tips to get the most from a family day out at Dunham Massey in Altrincham, Cheshire

What to see and do with children at the National Trust’s Dunham Massey near Manchester

What is it?

A stately home with gardens, a large deer park, good walks and cafes, run by the National Trust.

Where is it?

Dunham Massey is near Altrincham in Cheshire, just a few miles from the main A556 dual carriageway.

What did we think?

This is one of the best places to take children, the grounds are safe and large, there are good facilities, regular special family trails, shows and events.

There is enough to keep you interested at Dunham Massey for at least half a day.

Our highlights

The park

The large deer park has long paved stretches for scooters and bikes (child bikes only allowed), plus lots of areas to build dens, play hide and seek, explore fallen trees and small ponds.

There are lots of deer in the park and they are fairly tame so you can get quite close – sometimes they even hang around by the house and cafe area. It is a very safe, flat and expansive park to play in.

deer at Dunham Massey

The deer are regular visitors to busy areas

The gardens

You have to pay extra to enter the gardens (free to National Trust members). There are paths throughout with flowers all year round. It claims to be one of Britain’s biggest winter gardens.

There are regular children’s trails to pick up at the entrance and follow, especially at Christmas and Easter.

The rose garden and bridge over the lake are fun parts for children. It is a lovely area to explore and enjoy.

rhododendrons in bloom at Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey’s gardens are colourful and host regular family trails

The house

Pretty much your traditional National Trust old house, of interest to lots of adults but a bit dark and gloomy for children, without a great deal to keep them amused.

However, it does have regular exhibitions and events – it was turned into a World War One hospital recently which was an interesting experience for our little ones. It costs extra to enter the house (free to National Trust members).

an aerial view of Dunham Massey

The house at Dunham Massey from above

Facilities

A newish visitor centre has a shop, cafe and toilets at the entrance. Remember to get your garden or house tickets from there before you go any further – even NT members need a ticket.

The cafe at the visitor centre has a nice outside seating area but it gets busy.

We prefer the restaurant in the park, which is large with family seating area, but this also gets busy and peak times. There is an ice cream shop in this area too and toilets and it is nearer the gardens and house entrance.

Conclusion

Dunham Massey is a great place to take scooters or bikes and explore the parkland, the gardens are also worth a visit although you can probably give the house a miss.

Our Top Tips

*You need tickets for the house and garden even if you are National Trust members. Get them at the main entrance before you go any further – you can’t buy them anywhere else.

*It gets very busy at weekends in good weather – and you often have to queue for the car park so try and go very early or later in the day.

Dunham Massey information

Food: There are two nice places to eat, a cafe in the visitor centre at the entrance and the other,our favourite of the two, a restaurant off the courtyard, with hot food and delicious cakes. It is big but very popular and can get very busy. There is also an ice cream parlour in this part. Picnics are also welcome in the park but not the gardens.

Opening hours: Open every day in school holidays from 10am to 5pm. During term time, it is open Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays.

Cost: Car parking £7, includes entry to the park (free for NT members). Family entry to house and gardens £36.25, garden only £25. National Trust members free.

Best for: ages three to eight.

Time needed: Can easily fill half a day or just pop to the park for an hour or so.

Access and restrictions: There is free disabled parking. The ramp running from the car park to the Visitor Centre is accessible by wheelchair and mobility scooter, but is quite steep. Wheelchairs and personal mobility vehicles (PMVs) are available to borrow from reception. Book in advance to ensure availability on 0161 941 1025.

Address: Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ

(Pictures in this article are courtesy of National Trust Images).