Tel: +44 (0)1264 352195
Fax: +44 (0)1264 363172
Bookings: +44 (0)1264 324141 „
On a recent trip with my daughters pre-school, we all spent a very enjoyable day at Finkley Down Farm in Andover, Hampshire. With the school holidays coming up, if you have little one's, this would be an ideal place to take them.
Also because the farm unit is completely flat, it means that wheel chair and buggy access is easy. There are no ramps inside any of the barns or out buildings so you will have full manoeuvrability. Please read on to find out more.
** GETTING THERE **
Finkley Down Farm is situated on the A303, close to Picket Piece. At M3, J7 take the 3rd Exit off the roundabout into M3 direction Winchester, Andover Via [a303].
Leave the M3 at junction M3 J7 and straight ahead into A303 direction Andover.
Continue straight until you reach the Walworth roundabout.
From here Finkley is signposted (brown and white sign). It's about five minutes from this point.
Finkley Down Farm Park
*** OPENING TIMES ****
From March 12th to October 29th, the farm is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
Loads of it and ample space to turn, unlike some other attractions where you are sandwiched in. The coach park is separated from the main car park. However in hot sunny days, the gravel road becomes dry and dusty which is a bit of a nightmare for your windows and paint work
The car park is free to all attending the farm and there is no time limit set. However it is not patrolled so make sure your vehicle is locked and valuables hidden or kept with you.
The path ways inside the grounds are clean and tidy, no need to bring your boots!
** ENTRANCE FEE **
Senior Citizens, Students & Disabled Adults £5.25
Children (aged 2 - 14 years) £4.75
Disabled Children £4.25
SAVER Ticket - 2 Adults & 2 Children £20.00
First Named Adult £35.00
Second Adult £30.00
Children / Senior Citizens £30.00
Family (4 Persons) £110.00
A season ticket gives unlimited entry to the farm during normal opening times from the date of purchase to the end of the season 2006.
Group Admission Rates are available for pre-booked parties or 15 or more paying persons.
Senior Citizens, NUS Students £4.75
Children (aged 2 - 14 years) £4.25
This is the way I used to gain entry. My daughter's pre-school teacher arranged for two coaches to take everyone and the price included entry into the farm. If you are involved in an education setting then this is an ideal place for school parties but would not recommend it for senior school age children. For each group of 5 children, one adult goes free but the booking must be made in one block and not over the course of a few weeks.
A school group cannot enter the farm until all adults and children have been given their entry stickers which you must display on your top and the children's clothing too. Different stickers are given for each day of the week so can only be used on that day, you will not be allowed to return the following week.
** ANIMALS ***
This is a real touch and feel farm. All animals apart from the pigs and birds can be petted, hugged and fed. There is a varied selection of live stock which include:
Lambs, Rabbits, Ponies, Goats, Mice, Rats, Geese, Peacocks, Ducks, Cattle, Llamas, Shire Horses, Shetlands, Donkeys and the odd spider in the toilet.
As you enter the grounds, the first animals to greet you are the pygmy goats. With their heads hanging over the fences they eagerly await to be fed by the food you can purchase as you pay your entrance fee. At 40 p a bag or £1 for a small bucket, it does not last long as these goats are ravenous. It appeared that most of the goats were either pregnant or they were extremely over weight.
Follow the paddock round to the left where you will meet the horses, one with a foal and more goats of different sizes. The llama's are not so accommodating and refused to walk over to greet us. It was quite a hot day and they were just stretched out in the field without a care in the world.
On the right hand side of the farm are the cattle, geese, ducks, more goats and various
Barns. You can wander around at will and walk inside the barns freely.
Two of my favourites were the calves and a black pygmy goat. The two calves are kept inside the main petting barn and I found it hard to tear myself away. As you stroke them, their huge tongues come out to lick you across your arm and they are so loving. The calf's are incredibly friendly and just adore the company of adults and children.
There are signs by each animal giving you information on the breed etc. It upset me to read that these two youngsters were taken from their mother at birth and hand reared on artificial milk. Then when they grow to full size they will be taken to a nearby farm and the whole process repeats itself again. I just hope they don't end up inside an abattoir and destined for a McDonalds cheeseburger. Suddenly I have an over whelming urge to become vegan.
The black pygmy goat is called Bilbo Baggins and he knows his name. As soon as you approach and call him, he jumps up in eagerness for some attention. Unlike the other goats, he enjoys being fed but loves his head scratched just as much. Not much bigger than a poodle but equally as adorable. Bilbo likes to nuzzle into your hand as you rub his chin.
In the "Feel Barn" at set times; there is an itinary on the black board. When you hear the bell ring then make your way over to the barn that is sign posted. Depending on what is arranged, you can hold rats, help feed the lambs, cuddle a rabbit or even groom a pony. Each time a child completes an activity, such as holding a rat, they receive a sticker. By the end of the day their t - shirt is full.
As you enter the barn, apart from having some relief from the hot sun, its quite relaxing inside. The lambs are bleating in the pen, the calves are waiting to be petted and the baby chicks are scurrying about under the hot lamp. There is a huge wasp nest in the corner (not a live one), which is fascinating to look at. I never realised how much work was put into this large dome of what looked like honeycomb. It was intricate and superbly made.
Other smaller barns have exhibits inside of by gone farming days. The stables are close by and you are free to walk in and pet the ponies. When I was there, all of them were asleep and could not be bothered to get up from their clean straw bed.
What caught my attention upon walking round was just how clean and spotless the animals are kept. Only the pigs had a few piles of last night's dinner on the floor, all the other animals were almost immaculate. All pens are filled with food and water that is in addition to the grains you can purchase at the shop. The animals at Finkley are very well kept and very well fed. Full marks to the staff.
There is a main block by the entrance and baby changing too. I also noticed one disabled toilet. The loo's are not brilliant and are littered with bugs and spiders. However they are clean. Just don't look up at the ceiling whilst you are doing whatever in the cubicles if you are frightened of anything with more than four legs.
There are also no sanitary machines inside the ladies. I made the mistake of going empty handed in this department but the staff in the gift shop were fantastic and gave me something free of charge.
Apart from the toilets, there are washbasins all over the farm. Signs by each animal remind you that you must wash your hands, especially if you have fed any of them. All the soap dispensers were full, which is rare thing when going out.
*** PICNIC AREAS ***
This is by the front entrance and there are a multitude of wooden picnic benches. Be warned the greedy peacocks will come close as soon as you start eating. Do not feed them unless you want the whole family round your ankles.
Best not to sit on the grass here, as there are many piles of peacock and duck pooh. Always grab a bench and please remember you are on farm, do not drop your litter, think of the animals that are roaming about. Place your rubbish inside the many litterbins around the farm.
** FOR THE CHILDREN ***
As if the animals were not enough, there is a huge sand pit, climbing frames, swings, little tikes cars, mini bikes, trampolines and go carts for the children. I wouldn't recommend them for older kiddies, but for the under 10's its ideal. The three full size trampolines all have safety nets around but you have to supervise your own child.
** ROOSTERS REST TEA ROOM **
Very quaint and just how you imagine a tearoom to be complete with wooden tables and chintzy patterned cloths. Tea is served in real cups not plastic beakers and the hot chocolate is huge, almost a pint pot!
A good selection of homemade cakes, ranging from Dorset Apple Cake to a creamed tea. For the healthy customer you can also purchase jacket potatoes, salads, sandwiches and a not so healthy basket of freshly deep fried chips. Prices range from £1 upwards depending on what you have. A cream tea costs £3.25 and was rather delicious.
To order just go to the till point and as soon as you have paid, the waitress will bring the food over to your table.
** GIFT SHOP**
Next door to the toilet block by the main entrance. A small shop but packed with toys and mementos for the young ones to take home. Prices range from 50 pence up to £20 for a combine harvester set. You can buy disposable cameras and tissues from here but remember girl's to bring your own sanitary protection incase the inevitable happens.
The toys are of good quality and not over priced. My little girl chose a replica rubber egg for £1, a wind up pig in an oval case for £1.50 and an ice cream, which the large Billy goat eventually ate when she wasn't looking.
** BIRTHDAYS **
For £8.75 each child, you can arrange to have your son or daughters birthday party here. For every 5 children, one adult gets in free. All you have to provide is your child's cake on the day. Ask at the entrance for more details and a booking form or Please telephone 01264 324141 during our usual opening hours.
Although they do not ask for any deposit, please give at least 24 hours notice of any alterations or cancellations.
** TO CONCLUDE **
With Finkley Down, it gives the younger children a valuable insight into the farming culture, they are also learning through play. The farm has a very relaxed atmosphere but in a safe and secure unit. The staff, though quite sparse when I was there, are friendly and helpful. However I wouldn't recommend taking a group of teenagers there, as they would soon tire of the place, but for under 10's its perfect.
Finkley needs all the support from visitors as one the staff members told us that it could be closing next year. Unfortunately the lease is up for renewal and it seems the council would rather demolish the farm and build houses on the land. This would be a huge shame and a loss to the community.
This place is well worth a visit because such an attraction is a rarity in this modern day. One word of advice though is just making sure you have good weather, this would be no fun in the rain. With hardly any shade here either, take sun hats on the rare occasion we have a hot day and slap on the sun block.
Hope you enjoy it.
Amesbury Road Cholderton Salisbury Wiltshire SP4 0EW Tel: +44 (0)1980 629 438 Fax: +44 (0)1980 629 438 Cholderton is a small village on the Amesbury Road between the town of Amesbury and Salisbury. It is hidden off in a side road, but there are brown signs to tell you the way, should you come by car. It has two awards one being the Wiltshire Family Attraction Association. The place has starred on TV and is a museum like farmer Giles, dedicated towards the farming industry. The actual entrance way is a cottage that takes you into the gift shop through into a paved courtyard. In the courtyard there is a pond and fountain with golden carp cruising about under the lily pads, peacocks sometimes come for a drink, and you often hear them calling out to one another in peacock language. The restaurant is a conservatory, and has a glass roof overlooking the courtyard. There is outdoor seating as well by the fountain, and there is waitress service. One of the many attractions is Rabbit World, a barn with many rabbit pens. Come at a certain time and their will be babies nestling by their mothers which is really cute. The breeds range from Giant to Dwarf, the last time I visited there was a female black bunny sitting on a log in the center pen with little babies hiding under the straw. You can buy rabbits for a certain price, but you have to negotiate with reception first. There are 13 splendid ancient breeds of sheep including a very odd looking creature with four horns who lives in a solitary pen, who’s not very keen on having his picture taken? Someone told me he was a Seaweed Eating North Ronaldsay, so its not humans who have funny eating habits. There is a wide variety of goats and cows, there is a pets corner here where rabbits will sit on your lap; ankle shields needed as they sometimes nibble your shins. The Pygmy goats like to be fussed as well. There are three turkeys w
ho are really looking forward to Christmas, NOT! The hens I think they are Road Island Reds and Sussex breeds that are white and have an attitude, especially the cock if he’s having a bad day and wants you to know about it. There are the donkeys and ponies that live up the field in little paddocks, including a miniature pony that I would like to take home. There is pig racing at weekends and during the school hols if the weather is good, which takes place along a little circuit that has jumps by the restaurant. You can bet a pig if you’re daft enough, and hope it behaves like ShoeMacker when the time comes. There is also tractor and trailer rides, and a nature trail, if you don’t get lost you can find the badgers set. There is a playground for children with a woodchip floor, and picnic areas which sadly aren’t wasp free. There are views towards Salisbury. Imagine how quiet it must have been before the car was invented.
As some of you may know by now that I am currently in the process of having an extension done on the side of my house. Whats that got to do with writing a review on Finkley Down Farm you ask. Well Saturday arrives and we are inundated with four builders, three plumbers, two electricians and a partridge in a pear tree. BOOM BOOM. God that was quite funny for first thing in the morning.!! Anyway not being able to move around the house I decide to take my two young terrors to Finkley Down Farm. Its only a couple of miles away from where I live and for the last few years I bought a season ticket so ended up going every week. This year however due to the Foot & Mouth crisis it was closed for some time so I decided to give the season ticket a miss this year. ** Where is Finkley Down Farm ** Finkley Down Farm is situated one and a half miles north of the A303 and two miles east of Andover, Hampshire. Once in Andover look out for the brown tourist signs. ** Opening Times ** The farm is closed through the winter months and opens again mid March to the end of October. However this year they have extended it until the 4 November 2001. The farm opening times are from 10.00am until 6.00pm. The last entry into the farm is 5.00pm, but to be honest you would be completely barmy paying out for just an hour, unless you do have the season ticket. ** Prices ** Adults £4.25 Senior Citizens £3.75 Children 2 years and above £3.25 Super Saver tickets 2x Adults and 2x Children £14.00 No season ticket prices are mentioned now, probably as it is late into the season. However it roughly cost me under £40.00 last year for my son and I to go in and Charlotte was free. You can also buy feed for the animals at a price of 30p a bag and £1 a bucket. ** What has it to offer ** Shire horses, Mini tractors, Geese, Goats, Farmyard, Rabbit barn, Stables, Chipm
unks, Tea-room, Pigs, Touch and feel barn, Indoor play, barn of Bygones, Romany barn, Trampolines, Shepherds Hut, Donkeys, Toddler playground, Playground, Sand pit, Picnic area, Gift shop, Toilets, Aviary and llamas. The farm can cater for the disabled and they also offer amenities for baby changing and feeding as well. As you first enter the farm you are greeted with two large children’s play areas. One suitable for the younger children probably to the age of 5 and the other for 5 and above. The younger play area has a small picket fence around it, to keep the children in and stop them from wondering off and getting lost. In there you will find a roundabout, swings, small climbing frames, a trampoline and some good old space hoppers. The older playground is mostly one large climbing area, swing tyres, slides and a tyre slide that looks great fun. Too many people around for me to have a try but I may pop up there in the week sometime when everyone else is at work, so I can have a play!! Once you have dragged your children away from the play areas and reminded them that the place is a farm and that we have really come to see the animals, groaning they finally oblige. The farm has a timetable showing daily activities, and you can always tell when they are about to start as when it is time for a certain activity they ring a large bell and you head off in search of the noise. Below I have listed the activities on offer, ( I felt incredibly sad doing this at the farm yesterday, stopping to buy a pen knowing that an opinion was looming.!!) Boy should I get a crown for commitment.!! ** Timetable ** 10.30 Rodent handling ( Ignore bell, pretend to children that someone else is messing around. 11.0 Meet the chicks 11.30 Pony Grooming 12.0 Rabbit handling 1.0 Duck feeding and egg collecting 2.0 Meet the chicks (again) 3.00 More rabbit handling 4.0 Rodent
handling (Gone home before then!) 4.30 Pony grooming and put them away for the evening. 6.0 Farm closes ** Meet the chicks” This is my favourite activity, they are so cute and fluffy, to meet the chicks you all have to sit on a bench and the chicks are passed to you in small individual wicker baskets and in them is a lovely fluffy chick for you to stroke. Luke and I are happily stroking this cute chick, when my very young daughter lunges forward and tries to throttle the chick. We hastily give the chick back for its own safety and Charlotte is chuckling away (eighteen month old hooligan). Once the activity is over the staff come round and give all the children a sticker saying “ I held a chick”, nice touch although I think Charlotte should have had one that said “I attempted to murder a chick” !! We didn’t go to the Pony grooming, as Luke was too busy on the mini tractors that we came across. The mini tractors and tricycles are in a large grassy area with a few straw bales scattered everywhere for them to drive around. Whilst here Luke is belting around the track in his digger while Charlotte is attempting to pedal a tricycle and not really getting anywhere, but she’s contented. Half an hour later boredom is creeping in for me and I sit down on a bench and decide to have a little snack. Kids being kids smell snacks, and rapidly drive their automobiles to where I am sitting. Earlier I had bought a handy picnic snack box from Tesco and the kids were dying to get their hands on them. Once fed we heard the familiar bell ringing and headed off in search of the rabbit handling. ** Rabbit handling ** You have to sit down on the wooden benches and have an off cut of carpet on your lap for the rabbits to sit on. Our rabbit was huge and was called “Scooter”. This experience was successful Charlotte patted the rabbit and too my surprise he seeme
d to like her. Once the rabbit handling was over we finally had a proper look at all the animals at the farm. Obviously there are the usual animals, such as smelly pigs and could you believe it one was called Charlotte so that gave me and Luke a giggle, goats, horses, including Shire, donkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds. Other unusual animals were chipmunks and llamas. ** Old MacDonald’s Farm ** This area is a scene set inside an old farmhouse with cob webbed mannequins. This part of the farm is boring for child and adult alike. However on the plus side there is an area where you can get in with the chickens. ** Duck feeding and egg collecting ** Luke loved this activity as he got to go around collecting up all the eggs. The children loved feeding the ducks and they were all pushing and shoving to get into the enclosures. ** Did you know ** Around the farm they had little wooden questions and the answers would be underneath. Here are some questions for you:- How many stomachs does a cow have: - Four What is a baby rabbit called: - Kitten How heavy is a shire horse :- 1000KG ** Tea-room ** The tea-room is of a good size and offers endless sandwiches, rolls, cakes, crisps etc. I did not find the prices to over the top, a sandwich was priced around £1.50 and a large roll was £1.75. The tea-room also caters for parties as well, these are priced at £6.50 per child but you do have to pay extra for a party bag at a cost of £1.50. I thought a party would be a good idea here but would probably not do one for my son as his birthday is usually just as the farm is opening and in March it rains more times than not. After heading back to the playground for more fun, Luke goes off on to a big slide and at the top is a giant tree house. After several minutes up there with lots of other c
hildren I become concerned, as he has not come down the slide. I go over to the slide and ask him if he’s all right. “Go away Mummy back to your bench, I am playing with friends”. I head back to my bench a little hurt; my little lad is growing up too fast. Charlotte is flat out in her pushchair and has been for the last half an hour. An hour has past and several beggings to my son, he comes down and agrees to go home. Well I said begging it was more of a blackmail, I said that if he came down now he could have something from the gift shop. He’s down in a flash giving me a list of what he wants, ice cream, a tractor, a pen, book etc. We settle for a huge pig pencil, Simpson ice-cream and a pink rabbit fridge magnet for Charlotte (she has a thing about them). Five hours later and we are heading for home, I look in my rear view mirror and the children are flat out in the back of the car asleep. Peace at last.