There’s so many good places to go near us with children, it’s hard to get round to them all. I used to go to Hatton Country Village for the shopping and craft shows quite frequently pre-N, but haven’t managed to visit the Hatton Adventure World part which is the place to go with children. I’ve got friends who’ve taken theirs and loved it, but I always looked, and like a cheapskate thought – I’m not paying £13+ for N to visit somewhere when we could go elsewhere. It’s the only place we’ve been to where prices for children are the same as adults.
But last week I decided it was time to visit as we had a spare day and the weather was looking good.
In true form we arrived early, which meant we could snaffle all the conkers that had fallen from the tree in the car park. N was very impressed to be going home with an easily found stash.
Then we wandered through the shopping area to get to the Adventure World area. I’ve always found the shopping area a bit hit and miss – artisan craftsmen and women have workshops and stalls, there’s a large outlet clothes, gifts and book shop (think a bit similar to large garden centres, but with more outdoor gear), an old fashioned sweet shop etc. But the adventure world was a lot better than I expected…and so it should be for the money.
There’s so much to do when you’re there. September was continuing the summer spectacular although we were a bit early for the pumpkin week which is half term. For the spectacular events, there’s a lot more going on, you pay a bit more during peak times (ie weekends and school holidays – weekdays during term time are around £4 cheaper), but you tend to be able to take an item home. So pumpkin week, each child can take home a real pumpkin.
During September, we could go and harvest potatoes, and N could have taken a bag of spuds home for free. But he didn’t fancy that which was a bit of a shame. Instead he headed straight for the play areas – spotting the old tractor first of all
Then the JCB ride on area. He spent ages in there – unlike most places where they have ride on toy areas, it wasn’t busy at all, and he could choose his vehicle with no problems. There were tunnels to drive through, ramps to drive up, and ‘petrol’ pumps for children to fill up the vehicles which he loved.
It’s lovely that the play areas are right next to the animals as well. N was pretty excited about the goat bridge, although he didn’t quite get what I was explaining that it was a trip trip troll bridge. Great fun bringing children’s stories into it.
We then checked out (fleetingly) the reptile area, before heading into the guinea pig village. Now I’m not a particular fan of guinea pigs, but I couldn’t believe how many there were. Plus it was sweet they had all these houses in their village.
There are also farm animals to check out – great murals behind their pens and N was very excited to see Peter Rabbit painted up above the rabbit run. I found this one amusing.
Once outside again it was time to head for the adventure playground options. Hatton has so much choice – fairground, trampolines, sandpits, gold panning, vehicles to ‘drive’ and more. N spend a fair while in the sandpit construction area, making up stories and activities for playing.
After a while I dragged him off and he trampolined for a bit. They have trampolines for under 5s and overs spread around, so they don’t get too busy.
He was quite taken with ‘Daisy’ the cow…I realised after he’d milked her several times, that she was actually called Bluebell.
And obviously having work to do on the combine harvester kept him busy. He wasn’t impressed that there were other children playing on it before he could go on (his second go) as they’d made up their own game with it ‘They’re wrong mummy, it’s not a boat, it’s a combine’.
We did have a look at the fairground rides, but the one he wanted to go on said over 4s only. I’m sure he’d have been fine, but after not being able to go on it, he didn’t want to go on the tea cups. Instead the bouncy slide was his activity of choice, and he kept going up for more.
Throughout the day there were lots of activities and displays you could watch. We missed the falconry display, and N didn’t fancy checking out the magic show at the family theatre. Instead we went to the Wild West carnival. I was a bit disappointed as had imagined an actual display, but it was more an area with a wild west theme and some activities the children could try out when they wanted. N tried out rounding up some cattle with his lasso (much harder than I thought – especially wielding a ‘lasso’ without hitting a toddler on the head!)
But our favourite was the bow and arrow activity, trying to hit the tins off the cactus. It was great fun. N had a good go, although it’s quite hard to help someone do it. But I loved it…2 tins down and I was pretty impressed. I’m thinking I need one of those bow and arrow sets for the garden!
We tried some gold panning as well. It was good as unlike most places where you have to pay, at Hatton it’s free. You can exchange X number of gold pieces for something from the café I think, so if you stick at it, you can get a reward. I found one tiny piece…and N just got soaked. Give him some water to play in and he’ll be drenched. I could wring out the sleeve of his jumper. Luckily it was warm enough to just wear t shirts, so I could let his jumper dry a bit.
I did treat N to a little vending machine duck so he could ‘race’ it down the water pipe. It was hard work, but I think he thought it was interesting watching the water push it down. I suppose there’s some scientific education there – water flow, kinetic and mechanical energy, gravity?
I’d not brought a picnic, although there are lots of benches and tables. Instead we headed into Super Slide Mania which is the very family friendly restaurant and soft play. N didn’t want to try the slides – the most tame one needed the children to sit in helter skelter type of mats and I’m not sure he quite got that, so he decided to miss the slides out, and stick with a route round the climbing frame/rope bridges. He made the height limit for the drop slide, but I’m not sure I’d have wanted to do that one, let alone a 3 year old!
Then it was time for lunch. Although the cafe restaurant looked really basic (think easy to clean, motorway service station style seats in part of it with the tray slider thing), the food was decent. I had a huge plate of jacket potato, chili, cheese and a massive (side) salad which was really good. N had one of the lunchboxes, which yippee, was choose your own. Five items and a drink for £5.25. Yes it was expensive but at least you got decent items. N had 2 lots of sandwiches, a little pot of chopped up sausage (proper sausage, not cocktail ones), a little bag of 3 mini chocolate brownie pieces, an apple and a flavoured water. You could also choose chocolate bars (full size), little tubs of cheese, yoghurts. So a good choice. The only thing that you’d expect to see was crisps, but it was a good substantial lunch box.
N didn’t fancy another wander round after lunch, but there were lots of areas we didn’t get time to see, including (pay for) pony rides, the falconry, and various other activities.
There’s definitely lots going on, and it’s a good price for an all day trip for children. For the adults, there’s not that much actually for them, so I do think the price is steep – essentially you’re paying to chaperone your children, have a go at some children’s activities, and see some displays. But there’s not much that you have to pay extra for once you’re inside, so the rest can be cheap if you bring your own picnic.
As it’s only half an hour away, we’ll be going back there when other big events are on, as N really did have a blast.
What kind of activities do you like to see at these adventure farm parks?
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