Animals and amusements are a winning combination when it comes to children.
This summer’s excellent weather gave the Hay family the perfect excuse to try out some top attractions north of the border.
We headed to Heads of Ayr Farm Park, just outside Ayr and Almond Valley Heritage Park, near to Livingstone. Both are popular visits for Lancastrians as they are easily accessible off the motorway.
And more importantly for Ruaridh (6) and Flora (3), both are packed with fun! Heads of Ayr Farm Park’s website boasts that “you can play all day’’ and husband Kenny’s and my weary feet can confirm this!
The park, by the sea, is well spread out in acres of farmland and there are 50 different species of animals to see. For Flora it was the meerkats which caught her eye (a seagull gulped up her abandoned sandwich!) and Ruaridh fell in love with the new addition of Stanley the camel and his “oh so soft lips!’’
There are plenty of opportunities to feed the goats and pet the rabbits and watch the exploits of exotic animals from lemurs to wallabies. There are indoor and outdoor sections, so the park, which opens from March is ideal for all weathers.
We were lucky to visit during a scorching day and once the animals had been fed, petted and ruffled, it was time to tackle the amusements. Again they have been well thought out by the park owners. There are different rides for the varying age groups. Ruaridh mastered his skills with what felt like a million goes on the zip wire and Flora bounced to her heart’s content on the jumping pillows. A Camelot castle adventure play area has been added this season and there is plenty to do inside and out.
There is a mixture of amusements, some which have added charges like the quad bikes and boats, but there is plenty to do free of charge too with diggers and sandpits and trampolines among the favourites for Ruaridh and Flora. Inside there is an excellent soft play area, with a scary (well for me!) slide and there are plenty of refreshment and picnic areas.
A quick jump back into the car and a short drive away is Almond Valley Heritage Park. A totally different experience to Ayr as the mill and farm buildings date back many centuries. They have been utilised to house lots of small animals from quail to rabbits. Outside is home to the bigger ones and Ruaridh and Flora had real fun helping a calf down its three litres in less than two minutes!
Flora was over the moon to discover a play room called Flora’s Forest and the children enjoyed Morag’s Meadow soft play. But as the weather was good again, we spent most of our time outdoors.
The park is well set out, with amusements neatly placed next to the animals, so no-one gets bored. There is a small heritage museum inside plus the interesting Scottish Shale Oil Museum which is worth a look around. Outside there is lots to do, from pedal tractors to trampolines, tractor and railway rides and a chance to play bones and stones inside a huge sandpit.
You can try your hand at the ancient art of quoiting, which involves throwing metal hoops onto hooks and its harder than you think! There’s pedal cars, a display of old farm machinery and a wartime garden to stroll round. We enjoyed seeing the ducks, cows and pigs, all who were keen to be stroked!
Both Almond Valley and Heads of Ayr are reasonably priced for a family day out and there is plenty to fill your day up with. Infact they were so good, we were the last out of the car park!