“My favourite thing was the escaping lamb.” – Lucas
When we visit family in the North East, we have a few firm favourite activities. One of these is visiting Ouseburn Farm. It’s a charity-run urban farm in the Ouseburn Valley (or Byker, if you grew up around there). It has farm animals, small pets and fish, a cafe, and a lovely garden.
We headed there on our most recent trip up north, with a change to the original lineup as Guy was working. Me, the children, and grandma made five.
What we did
Ouseburn Farm is free to enter but welcomes donations as it is a charity. You enter through the cafe, which has a little play area with books, seats, and a mini kitchen for children. Head down the stairs and you’ll find yourself in the farmyard, proceeded by an intrusive and pretty unpleasant smell!
We arrived at the right time, as one of the farm workers informed us that we could head to the field and help feed the sheep. The kids were really keen, and after a short walk over a little bridge, we found a group of people feeding some very excited sheep and lambs. Though nervous at first, the children soon scooped up handfuls of whatever-you-feed-sheep and held them out to the animals. Their snuffling snouts and eager tongues gave the children a bit of a shock! Their excitement over seeing farm animals was lovely to witness – I often bemoan their urbanite natures (they still can’t tell the difference between a cow and a horse…)
There is quite a bit to see in a relatively small area: chickens, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs; and larger animals like cows and pigs. Our three particularly like the ‘pets room’, which on this visit housed chicks and ducklings as well as the usual terrapins, snakes, fish, rats, and degus. The resident parrot (may not be an actual parrot…) sadly did not repeat what we said, and one little boy was very disappointed by this!
Animal viewings exhausted, we headed up to the cafe for scones (adults) and Pom Bears (children). The kids happily played with the toys and books, while we managed a quick sit down – bonus!
What we thought
The children really love it here. Each time they visit, there is something new to see as well as their old favourites. Aurora adores the rabbits (predictably, she has asked for a rabbit for her ‘next birthday’) and the boys like the “very massive pigs” (they are absolutely huge!). It’s a wonderful place for children and has clearly been designed for their enjoyment: from the little tractors in the farmyard to the play area in the cafe.
The adults like it too – it’s easy to get to, is either free or low-cost depending on your generosity, and the cafe serves decent tea and cakes. It’s easy to manage – by that I mean it’s not hugely over-stimulating, it’s laid-back, it’s not over-hyped. It’s just a really good, fun trip out.
Lucas said: “My favourite thing was seeing the escaping lamb!” Aurora and Jake agreed.
- Parking right next to the farm can be difficult, especially at weekends and in school holidays. If you’re driving, head for the council-run Foundry Lane car park. It’s pay and display but pretty cheap and just a hop, skip and a jump over the footbridge to the farm.
- Combine a trip to the farm with a visit to Seven Stories, or on a sunny day, a walk around the valley. There are lots of interesting shops and cafes in the area.
- The farm is not very buggy-friendly. There is a lift down the stairs but if you can, leave the buggy in the car and take a sling or carrier for your little one.
Parking? free and pay-and-display in the valley and at Foundry Lane car park.
Refreshments? yes, a cafe serving cake, scones, hot drinks, and snacks. Soup of the day, sandwiches, and ice creams available.
Loos? yes, downstairs in the visitors’ centre. Look out for hand santising stations around the farm.