Todays post is about Broom House Farm in County Durham (not to be confused with the farm of the same name in Northumberland). Its coffee shop with brilliant facilities for kids and parents, and a woodland adventure trail. Can't quite picture what a woodland adventure trail is? Neither could I, but thankfully I've taken a photograph of pretty much every leaf in the forest, so by the end of this post you should have a good idea, but if you picture a very spread out park in the middle of a wood, with games and tasks to carry out then it's a good place to start.
The Coffee Shop and Children's Facilities
I absolutely love it at Broom House Farm, I just wish it was a little bit closer. We live in Gateshead and it was a half an hour car trip to get to Broom House, which is near Witton Gilbert. The first part of this post is all about the FREE facilities. There is no cost for playing on the equipment or seeing the animals, that is as long as you are buying something at the coffee shop. Seeing as since I've become a parent there is pretty much no greater pleasure than a coffee and a cake, Broom House Farm is ticking all of our boxes.
In my mind Broom House Farm is somewhere that you really want to visit when it is dry, as the best bits all revolve around being outside.
The coffee shop leads out to a huge field with loads of play equipment, ideal for kids of any age really. There is a large area full of ride on tractors, which states it's for children up to the age of 9. I was impressed to see 3 sizes of tractor, from ones my 18 month old could scoot on, to much bigger ones with pedals that were too big for our three year olds. There is also a wooden castle with two levels for kids to climb in and out of.
There is lots of green space to play any ball games, including ...rugby posts(? I think they are rugby posts, feel free to correct me if i'm wrong) as well as a large sandpit with toys, a swing set, slide and little house with a play kitchen inside.
I think that our kids' favourite bit of the coffee shop facilities was the hay bales. There are lots of them placed next to each other so that the kids could run in-between them, a little bit like a maze, or they could stand on top of them jumping from one to another. We could not get them off here. They spent about 20 minutes jumping along the top.
One of the best things about this place is that there are lots of big picnic tables outside of the coffee shop where you can see all of the play areas. The kids were able to have a little bit of freedom and play by themselves whilst could watch them and have a coffee. The coffee shop does have big windows, so you if you had older children than ours, you could probably sit inside and just watch through the windows.
The coffee shop menu is pretty good, they sell home made pastries and sausage rolls as well as hot sandwiches, and of course cake. They also serve roast dinners on a Sunday. We ordered a cheese toastie (for the kids, which of course they ignored so we ate it, and it was lovely), a scone with jam and cream, a chocolate brownie and a slice of lemon cake. In total it came to £13 which we thought seemed decent for how much we had.
You aren't allowed to take picnics into the farm or woodland adventure, but there is a picnic field near the car park. It is just a field, and not close to any,of the areas where the kids could play, but the website suggests that you have your picnic there, and then head to the coffee shop and play bits for cake afterwards. I think that is fair enough as there is no cost for any of the play sections (so please can you all ignore the photo from the woodland adventure where the kids are eating a bag of quavers - we hadn't realised the no food rule until we got back to the coffee shop.)
The farm animals are another reason I love Broom House Farm. It is a working farm, and there tended to be an animal around each corner. We've been twice in the past six weeks or so, and both times been lucky enough to see some teeny tiny piglets in the pig shed (nearest to the car park). There are also goats and sheep in the fields, a turkey and ducks near a small pond, and then chickens wherever they fancied going. One came under our table to feast on our cake crumbs.
The Woodland Adventure Trail
So this is the extra bit of Broom House Farm that you can choose to pay for if you wish. The tickets are £5 per person for anyone over the 2, so you need to pay for the adults and children in your group. Family tickets for 2 adults and 2 children are £18.
It is a series of play equipment, mainly tunnels, slides, climbing and balance areas and ziplines. The play areas are much bigger than you'd find in any usual parks. Our three year olds were able to play on most of the equipment, but tended to stay on the lower levels - crawling through the tunnels and slides. On one of the structures there was a suspended balance bar on the higher level, where if the kids fell they would land in netting - perfect for my older nephews when they were with us last time, but we tried to stop the toddlers from seeing any of those type of areas.
When you buy your tickets from the coffee shop the staff come out and give you a quick five minute briefing about how it all works. You can choose whether you want to follow any of the quests where you need to spot things in the forest. There were a few options to suit different aged children. You can fill in a sheet when you spot a fairy door, which have different characters behind each door. Older children can look for the letters around the forest, or collect stamps to spell a word. On our first visit we did all of the quests, but the second time, with just the toddlers we didn't bother as they would have been too young to really pay much attention to it. They absolutely loved the fairy doors though, so were always on the lookout for them.
Our toddlers really surprised us with what they could do on the play equipment. The 3 year olds were able to scale the climbing areas without needing much help, and they played on pretty much all of the areas in the forest. Our 18 month old even crawled through some scarily long tunnels, we were arguing about who would have to go and rescue her by the time she made it out of the other end. The boys adored the pulley skateboard thing which transported them through one of the tunnels.
We've done the trail twice now, the first time we were with my sister, so the kids in our group ranged from 11 years - 18 months. There aren't that many activities that I can think of that would suit that big an age range, but the woodland adventure trail was great for all of them, although my littlest was pretty content just wandering around with her cousins as opposed to doing that much on the equipment. The smallest ones didn't really do much on the two big zip wires, but us adults all had a good go on those. We also got competitive really quickly on the two skill games among the trail. In one you are trying to get pine cones through holes, and on the other you needed to knock over a post with a tennis ball.
Both times we've visited the woodland adventure we've spent over two hours in this bit. The first time we paid full price, and the second time we got complimentary entry to the woodland adventure for the purpose of this review. Having paid my own cash I definitely think it is worth it. Even more so if you kids are about 4 or 5 as they'll probably be able to do even more than ours could. It's not particularly cheap so we wouldn't be going every week. But I know we'll be back another time, either at the end of the summer or next year. You can pay for a season ticket which would be £50 for two adults and 2 children which I think I would consider if it was closer by.
Broom House Farm gets a massive thumbs up from us. We were there for 4.5 hours in total last Sunday and I think the kids would have been happy to stay longer if we hadn't have dragged them away. The coffee shop is great, with so much on offer for the price of your coffee and a cake. Brilliant place to entertain kids of any ages. You just need to pray for dry weather or pack all of the waterproofs.
For all of the info check out the Broom House Farm website. The coffee shop is open 7 days a week, and the woodland adventure is open weekends and school holidays.
Disclosure Policy - We received complimentary admission to the Woodland Trail in return for an honest review. All views are my own. See the about us section of this website for the full corporate speak disclosure policy.