Lancaster Park and Animal Farm in Chadderton, Oldham is literally down the road from my home. We make frequent trips to the farm as it offers the perfect family day out. After reading the history of the farm on their website, I have a whole other level of respect for the proprietor, Ben Lancaster and his family who run the farm. Ben’s 20 year struggle to open the farm is remarkable and the fruit of his and his family’s labours bring joy to children and families not only in our local town, but to families from miles around. You can read more about the history of the farm here.
Firstly I will say that the farm has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and is maintained by staff who clearly love the animals they care for. When visiting any attraction in which animals are kept, I always consider the condition in which the animals are kept. I can assure you that after visiting the farm dozens of times, the animals are always kept in clean enclosures and with ample room to move around.
Upon arrival, visitors can purchase a bucket of carrots and or bread to feed the animals for £1. This is truly what sets this farm apart. Children are encouraged to interact with the animals, to feed and pet them. I’m a firm believer in starting this process of interacting with animals young so children can develop a sense of empathy and responsibility towards animals. Lancaster Farm is wonderful for encouraging and instilling these kinds of morals into children.
A map of the farm is given to visitors at the gate.
Several attractions are located close to the entrance, such as the petting barn, chicken run, aviary, paddock and stables. The majority of visitor’s time at the farm will be spent completing the nature circuit which is approximately half a mile long. In the centre of the circuit is a huge field which is home to a variety of farm animals. The walk is extremely pleasant and features 2 playgrounds for the children. These playgrounds I find to be well placed – one is located half way around the circuit and allows children to blow off some steam while the adults can sit down and take a well earned rest! The other playground is set at the beginning/end of the circuit (depending upon which way you choose to go around the nature circuit). Children can also take a ride on the caterpillar ride (my toddler is still to small for this ride but always begs to go on it). A bridge along the circuit crosses over the river Irk.
Visitors can then complete their visit with refreshments from the kiosk.
The Petting Barn
Aurelia’s favourite part of the farm is her visit to the petting barn. She’s held several animals here including rabbits, mice and rats. She has been able to get close to animals I never did as a child (I’m thinking of the rodents here), this has removed the fear of these animals for her. This weekend, Aurelia asked to hold a Guinea pig. I think she had a special bond with this animal, she didn’t want to hand it back!
The Nature Circuit
They also love to be petted. This weekend, we took the clockwise route and came next to the duck enclosure and the bridge across the river. We stopped to feed the geese. Next we came to the donkey stable. My daughter is particularly fond of the donkeys, they’re so friendly and gentle.
Continuing along the trail we stopped to feed some sheep.
The goats are extremely entertaining. On our last visit to the farm, some of the baby goats came out of the fence to greet us (there is a notice informing visitors they are prone to doing this but always return to their enclosure). I love the sense of freedom these little goats have!
Taking a break to rest my weary legs, Aurelia played on the playground which is well equipped (indeed better than the local parks).
Continuing our adventure, we visited the peacocks and fed some more of the horses and donkeys along the way.
Small calves live in the stables, they’re so gentle and soft.
Lambs have been brought to the farm and are housed in a separate pen in the stables. If you time it right (I never have) you can watch the lambs being fed. They are adorable!
Close to the stables, the aviary contains a whole range of beautiful friendly birds that are always grateful for the bread we feed them.
Aurelia had a go on the mini quad circuit. She was the only racer so she got 1st prize!
Children can have a go at digging sand in ‘Digger Land’. All these attractions are only £1 per go!
Lancaster park and animal farm is the perfect family day out. Not only does my 4 year old enjoy the trips here, but so does my 16 year old daughter. They adore the animals there and love getting up close and personal with them (an opportunity not all farms offer). The entrance fee is extremely cheap: Adults £3.50 and children £4.00. (Current prices and opening times of the farm). With prices so low, we can visit the farm when we’re looking for a cheap family day out. The farm has a carpark but is also located next to Mills Hill train station making the attraction accessible to families not just from Oldham, but from other regions too.
We have been enjoying this wonderful farm for 4 years now, taking Aurelia there on her first animal encounter. We will be visiting this delightful family attraction for many years to come!