As restrictions begin to ease in Scotland, we have been looking forward to getting back out and about to explore some new and familiar places with our little man. Especially after being cooped up all winter, with snow still thinking it can make an appearance in April!
We were really looking forward to booking a trip to Montys Farm Park, which is part of Ardardan Estate – a local favourite haunt of ours pre-lockdown. I previously wrote about what you can do at Ardardan Estate with a little one, though bear in mind some of this might still not be possible due to lockdown restrictions.
Montys Farm Park is an addition to the estate which the owners had been planning long before a virus came along. Originally due to open in 2020, the outdoor experience was finally able to welcome visitors from April 2021.
Entry to the farm park is limited to outdoor experience due to current covid restrictions, but there is an indoor soft play which should hopefully be able to open in summer 2021, all being well. But for now, make sure you dress for the weather and prepare for an all-outdoor adventure. The ticket price gives you access to see farm animals such as goats, sheep (and lambs at this time of year), chickens, highland cows and pigs. By following the guidance, you are able to pet some of the animals too. For anyone visiting from now on, you’ll also be able to see some alpacas (they hadn’t arrived when we visited).
There’s not just real life animals at Monty’s either – kids are also given a trail map and asked to look around for animal statues hidden throughout the farm park. As well as a trail there are various climbing frames with slides, toy tractors to ride (smaller toddler ones and bigger ones too), go karts and a huge inflatable pillow to jump on.
At present, a visit is booked in a two-hour slot, which in our view was long enough to experience everything plus take a quick refreshment stop. There are toilet facilities and an outdoor catering horsebox which provides tea, coffee, juices, cakes and sandwiches. A cafe is all set up and ready to go indoors too, when covid guidelines allow.
What to Expect
Expect a warm welcome on arrival, with everything fully explained in terms of what’s on offer and the current measures they have in place to protect against coronavirus (sanitising points, handwashing before and after seeing animals etc). As mentioned, all tickets are booked in two-hour slots, with numbers in each slot limited to ensure proper social distancing.
The path is pretty sturdy and the trail is just a short loop (a couple hundred metres at most) so little legs are able to explore freely and it’s easy to navigate with buggies or carriers for those a bit young for their first steps. Expect enough fun to last through the allocated time slot, though older kids may race through the trail and things much quicker. Pre-school to about eight is the ideal age for this attraction, any older and attention spans might wane.
I would say expect to make the most of this attraction in good weather, but it’s Scotland and that can’t always be planned so make sure you’ve got the right clothing and footwear with you (if not on you) and don’t be too disappointed if they have to close the inflatable pillow for health & safety if it starts to rain.
Unlikely Mum Verdict
We had a whole lot of fun at Monty’s Farm Park – I would say the 3-5 age group will definitely enjoy this outdoor experience the most. With plenty to explore, climb, ride and jump, there’s enough to keep little minds and legs active for the time slot. With a trail and map to follow, navigating around the site is easy and structured so you don’t miss anything. Plus the trail glues everything together to ensure social distancing and that you’re never waiting too long for your child (or big kid – ahem go karts!) to go on anything.
The horsebox cart is a great idea to give kids and adults a refreshment stop – i.e. much needed caffeine for the latter – and there’s plenty of outdoor seating but I can’t wait to sample the cafe’s goods when it’s allowed to open, especially with talk of a pizza oven in use. Obviously it was disappointing that the indoor areas weren’t allowed to open, but that just gives us an excuse to go back again another day!
- Price: £3 for adults, £6 for children over 18 months and free for under 18 months (over 12s are charged £3 in line with adults as there’s less for them to explore)
- Pushchair friendly: Yes, it’s very geared towards young families.
- Length: There’s not a lot of walking around the site, maybe a couple of hundred metres for the animal trail, if that!
- Additions/extras: There’s an indoor soft play, indoor cafe and indoor crafting area which will be able to open post-covid 19.
- Parking: There’s onsite parking free of charge and it’s separated from Ardardan Estate’s Farm Shop and Tearoom so you should be able to park and enter without fuss.