Reviewed by Catherine Joyce
Old Hall Farm in Bouth is a historic working farm located in the southern part of the Lake District. It was easy to find being just over a mile off the A590 and there is ample free parking in the car park adjacent to the farm. The entrance is very welcoming, there are plenty of benches outside The Chicken Shed Tea Room for you to sit and watch the world go by whilst enjoying homemade cakes and ice cream. For the younger visitors there is a fenced off area with a good selection of pedal tractors and trailers which will keep the children entertained for a good while. Chickens wandering around also added to the farmyard feel.
On entering the farm we were given a map and were also told what activities were happening that day. Being a working farm, the activities vary with both the weather and the seasons. We were very lucky with the weather and arrived on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon so all the activities were going ahead as planned. We were introduced to Charlotte, who with her husband Alex run Old Hall Farm, she explained a bit about the history of the farm and what we would be able to see whilst we were there. Prior to us arriving she had been taking children for pony rides and so the first thing we did was have a walk around the farm with our son sitting in a trap pulled by a miniature Shetland pony which he loved.
There are a number of different animals to see and one of the highlights was seeing the children bottle feeding the lambs. I was brought up on a farm and bottle feeding lambs was one of my favourite jobs so it brought back many happy memories. The children all loved having a go and all had massive smiles on their faces when they left the barn.
Walking around the farm buildings you can see all the different types of machinery that are used on the farm, for machinery that is not in use at the moment, films are played to explain how they would have been used in times gone by. A range of machinery is used on the farm, from horse drawn seed drills from the 1850s to tractors from the 1960s. Alex has a passion for steam and this is reflected in the collection of steam traction engines and ploughing engines and the old belt driven threshing machine and saw bench. Stationary engines are used to drive the machines used to make butter or process food for the animals.
Earlier in the day potatoes had been planted and the fields had been harrowed with a vintage tractor. Whilst we were there we watched a team of shire horses sow this year’s crop of oats. It was fascinating watching the shire horses work in the field and Charlotte was also on hand to answer any questions. We watched whilst the horses were prepared and then led out to the field where Alex was waiting with the seed drill. It is quite a time consuming job so it was easy to see why farmers were so keen to move to tractors when they came along!
Milk from the farm is made into butter and there are demonstrations in the dairy. Charlotte also makes ice cream, try the jaffa cake flavour as it tastes amazing – it is worth a visit to the farm just for that!
The Chicken Shed Tea Room sells a variety of snacks, all of which were reasonably priced. Tea is served in pretty china tea cups which are a nice touch. The cakes are homemade and we really were spoilt for choice. There is also a farm shop selling a selection of farm themed gifts as well as seasonal farm produce.
Old Hall Farm is not just for families with children, anyone who has an interest in farming or steam power will enjoy their visit. They also run a couple of special courses, why not try one of their vintage tractor driving days, working with shire horses or working with steam engines for an extra special day out. Children will love the play barn with hay bales to climb on or the pedal tractors that they can ride on. As well as these there are lambs to feed, horses to groom and even a ride on a trap pulled by a Shetland pony. There are plenty of other animals on the farm too, including rare breed pigs, sheep, Jersey cows and a couple of rabbits.
We had a lovely day out and would certainly recommend it if you are in the Lake District. At £20 for 2 adults and up to 3 children it is excellent value. It is worth taking boots or wellies as some of the demonstrations are in the field and whilst we had lovely weather and the ground was dry this will not always be the case!
Tickets: £7.50 Adult, £5 Child (5-15 years), £30 Family (2 adults and up to 3 children)
For more information visit www.oldhallfarmbouth.com.
Old Hall Farm, Bouth, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 8JA | 01229 861993