What to expect from the best value day out for little ones in Wiltshire!
The great thing about Hope Nature Centre is that the animals are familiar to little ones. Donkeys, rabbits, chickens, cows… all of your farmyard friends can be found here! It’s great for boosting language skills for toddlers who (like ours) have perfected animal noises but haven’t quite grasped the concept of using words to identify them yet!
The most exotic animals at the park, and new for spring 2021, are a pair of wallabies! They’ve joined the residents at the centre from nearby Longleat Safari Park, and they are as adorable as you would expect them to be! There are a number of rare breed chickens and ducks that can be spotted at the park, but they are no where near as cute and cuddly as a wallaby!
In total, there are now 5 different play areas in the park, each with different equipment and themes. Some are even wheelchair friendly!
There is a small Woodland Walk are which is a great place for a game of hide and seek! This is the part where wellies may be most useful as it can get quite boggy in places!
During the school holidays, children can ride the land train around the park. Although it doesn’t offer any unique views, it is something the kids love and it gives them a chance to sit and catch their breath for 5 minutes! It costs just £1 each, and under 2’s are free!
Food & Drink
There are a few places to pick up a coffee or indulge in an ice-cream; the snack box at the entrance to the park, and another snack wagon by the adventure play area.
You can also bring your own picnic! Not many attractions like you bringing your own food and drink, however they actively encourage it here and have placed plenty of picnic benches around the park (please note, the indoor cafe is small so they do ask that only food purchased there is eaten inside).
The cafe has also recently been refurbished, and will be serving all of our favourite cakes and light lunches as soon as the government allows (currently scheduled to re-open 17th May 2021). The cakes have always been homemade, generous in size and delicious, so we can’t wait to get back in there!
- Pre-Book Your Visit (essential during Covid-19, but always recommended). We always pre-book as it saves you time at the gate. Scan your QR code and walk straight in – no waiting with excited little ones for us!
- Buy Animal Feed. It’s not very expensive but the kids love the interaction with the animals. If you aren’t going first thing, you may want to pre-purchase your feed as they limit the amount sold each day to prevent the animals from over indulging! At £1 a bag, it’s worth it for guaranteed animal interaction!
- Bring Your Wellies & Your Sun Cream. There aren’t many covered areas in the park, so be prepared for all the Great British weather has to throw at you! The park can get muddy at times due to high traffic and bad weather, so don’t get caught out in your best shoes.
Toilets are available in the cafe and the main animal park, both with baby changing and disabled access.
Parking is free, however the car park is quite small and can fill up on busy days. The car park at Southwick Park is also small, so arrive early to get a good spot.
Although the park is flat, most of the pathways are loose stone or wood chip, so it can get tiring pushing a heavy pushchair around. It doesn’t cover a huge area, so if your kids can walk a fair distance, maybe leave the buggy in the car.
Hope Nature Centre is a charity set up to help those with learning disabilities get in to work by gaining experience and valuable skills in the cafe and animal park. Please remember that the staff are doing their best and sometimes need extra support. They will do their absolute best to give you wonderful personal service, however your experience may be different to that which you expect from your typical high street coffee shop. Try to be patient and understanding. It is an incredibly special place and does so much to help the local community.
Telephone: +44 (0) 1225 759075
Address: Hope Nature Centre, Southwick Country Park, Frome Road, Southwick, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 9QD.
What’s your little one’s favourite day out? Let us know in the comments – we can always use some inspiration!