Regular readers of Cardiff Mummy Says will know I’ve been making the most of all the amazing free attractions in and around Cardiff this summer holiday. Yesterday, we headed to the Amelia Trust Farm, which is half way down the Five Mile Lane, otherwise known as the A4226 which links Bonvilston with Barry and Cardiff International Airport. The Amelia Trust is a brilliant working farm and charity committed to supporting and educating vulnerable and disadvantaged young people. It’s free for the public to visit.
We arrived at about 11.30am in the glorious sunshine. The car park was beginning to get full – yet due to the size of the farm (160 acres), it never once felt overly busy and the atmosphere was incredibly calm and relaxed considering it was the middle of the school holidays.
Among the animals we saw were sheep, goats, chickens, donkeys and pigs, all living in large paddocks and looking quite content. There’s a smaller barn with rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and other smaller animals.
If you’re visiting purely to get up close to the animals, then this probably isn’t the place for you, as there’s no petting or feeding unlike the more commercial farm parks. However, the fact that this is a working farm is its real attraction, as you can see the staff and volunteers carrying out their day to day duties.
We spent about an hour looking at the various animals before stopping for a picnic lunch on one of the many wooden picnic benches, all made at the farm.
After that, we explored the beautiful woodlands, including the Wild Piglet Trail. Little Man O was disappointed not to see any actual piglets in the woods, but it was a beautiful walk. I especially liked the woodland amphitheatre half way round, with ornate sculptures hanging from the trees.
New for this summer is the gnome and fairy trail – an assortment of 25 fairy doors and garden-style gnomes hidden among the trees on a woodland walk leading to a pond. You can take part in the trail on your own accord, spotting the colourful wooden numbers and fairy doors/gnomes m on the trees as you walk around the woods. Or for the cost of £2 per child, you get a sheet to record all your sightings on and a prize at the end (an Amelia Trust notebook and postcard and a chocolate treat. I was happy to pay for my children to do the trail to help support the work the farm does. One or two were quite tricky to find, but it was a lovely activity that kept us busy for a good 45 minutes. There’s a wooden obstacle course near to the end of the trail, which my children enjoyed climbing on, and a pond that is home to ducks, dragonflies and other creatures. There were more woodlands we would have liked to have explored if we’d had more time.
Pushing Baby I’s buggy around both trails was fine. There were a few muddy patches and one or two hilly areas, but nothing too difficult. The Wild Piglet Trail says it’s not suitable for wheelchairs, and with a hill at the end, and the bumpy nature of the wooden walkways covered with chicken wire, it would be difficult.
My children loved the playground area, which is the first thing that greets you when you arrive. There are two climbing frames, baby swings and regular swings, and a couple of rocking animals to sit on, but the star attraction was the old-fashioned tractor. My three loved it, and it was certainly popular with everyone else visiting the park too.
There are toilet and baby change facilities at the farm, loads of picnic tables dotted around, and a café serving snacks, drinks and ice creams, plus a small gift shop, with items on sale including wooden fairy doors. There’s also a stall selling organic produce grown on the farm, and a pottery centre.
The Amelia Trust Farm might not be as polished as some of the more commercial farm parks, but I love its wild and free-range environment. We were there for three and a half hours, but could have easily stayed a couple more if we didn’t have other commitments.
As I said earlier, the farm is free to visit but donations from visitors make a really big difference in its day-to-day running and in supporting its work with vulnerable people. They suggest a donation of £2 for parking – plus this colourful pig is situated next to the shop/café, if you can afford any more.
It’s worth following the Amelia Trust Farm Facebook page for details of special events. For example, there’s a family day fundraiser on 26th September at a cost of £5 per car, which will see live music, food stalls, family activities, children’s games and tractor rides. They also have weekly Meet The Animals guided tours at £3 per child.
The farm is open daily from 10am-6pm in the summer and 10am-4pm in the winter.
For all my posts on family-friendly things to do in Cardiff and South Wales, visit the Cardiff section of my blog.
You might also like this post on 63 free family days out for summer 2015
as well as my reviews on some other brilliant free local attractions:
Tape, the giant spider’s web art installation at Bute Park Cardiff