“ Address: Lanchester / Durham / DH7 0TA / England „
Hall Hill Farm is a family orientated tourist attraction near Lanchester in County Durham. It's a family farm which first opened to visitors in 1981 and has won several awards over the years, the latest being a Gold Award this year from the North East England Tourism Awards. Hall Hill is open daily between 10.30am and 5pm from March to September, but closes over most of the Winter. They do weekends in October and 'Santa weekends' during the first three weekends in December. I've visited a couple of times and no doubt will do again.
Wherever you come from you'll need to drive along country roads to get there, but it's well signposted so not hard to find. (There is a limited weekday bus service available from the nearby town of Consett, but it needs prior arrangement, details are on the farm website). Upon arrival there is ample free parking outside. The entrance is via the Gift shop where you can also buy bags of food for the animals for 35p each or three for a pound. A welcome leaflet includes the farm layout and times for the days events. Entry fees are £5.50 per adult and £4 per child, under three's go free and there are a variety of family saver and group deals. If you intend to visit you should check the website for more details on prices and opening times as these are prone to change.
~Small Animal Barn~
Once through the shop the first stop for most people is the small animal barn which is home to rabbits and guinea pigs. Here children can choose an animal to have sit on a towel on their knee. The animals have their names by their hutches, some are in little pens. On the occasions I've visited, the staff have been very friendly and chatty and talk nicely to the young ones about how best to hold the animals. There's a lovely atmosphere in here, everyone seems full of smiles. I have wondered how the animals feel about it all, I'd imagine it would be could be quite stressful for them, but hopefully the sheer everydayess of it all makes it less so. There are sinks and disinfectant gels at a low height by the doorway and staff remind visitors to use these. Just outside there is a bench by a small pond with a fountain.
~Ickle Chicks and Mad Cows~
Just across from the small animal barn is a room where baby chicks are reared. Again children can pet them on a towel on their knees. Last time we were there my daughter was told she could name one of the chicks, which was duly christened with the ignominious, not to say inaccurate, appellation of 'Floppy Ears'. I don't imagine they kept it's name after we left, but it was a nice gesture.
Past the tea shop, (we'll go back later) and there are a couple of huge model cows with udders that squirt water and a couple of buckets underneath. Good practice for anyone planning to go into cow milking by hand, or maybe just a bit of fun, especially when little ones discover they can aim and squirt the udders at each other.
Moving on there are a few outdoor sheltered stalls which house pigs, cows and their young. Just outside of the main farmyard is a polytunnel in which live mainly young sheep and goats. I've always found the kids to be particularly sweet, and greedy. Walking on, there's a field for Donkey rides, which cost 50p. When I was last here these were available between 11am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm. There are two donkeys at any one time. There can be queues for this, not long, but quite slow moving.
~Picnic and Play Area~
Along here the scenery opens up and there are some lovely views. The rolling Durham hillsides give the picnic and play area the perfect setting. We could easily spend a couple of hours just in this bit. The play area is well maintained with some swings, slides and an adventure area as well as a small slide and climbing area for toddlers. It's surrounded by picnic benches with sun umbrellas, a very pleasant place to sit and relax - if you get the right weather.
~Birds and Deer~
Past the play area there is a small vegetable garden, not that fascinating for children I have to say, but, educational perhaps. There is a peacock enclosure and there are turkeys, geese and other birds around here, including some in the 'Ark', a nicely shaped shed which is an aviary for various small and colourful birds.
Some deer live behind a tall wire fence and can be fed by putting food down a tube for which they wait with deer like docility at the other end. Young children will enjoy just putting the food down the tubes. The deer have a reasonable sized enclosure but seem to prefer hanging around the fence for some reason, (food perhaps).
~Big Shed and Paddocks~
The main attraction in the big shed is toy tractors. There are a couple of different sizes and there are lots of them. They're probably too big for most children under the age of four to get around in on their own. My three year old needed a helping hand to get around on hers. It can get quite manic in here with children racing around and bumping into each other. Pony grooming also takes place in here. This is basically one small pony being brushed by a horde of children. The one I saw didn't seem to mind too much.
The farm ends at the paddocks. If you're tired by now, you can just get a trailer ride around them. Free tractor and trailer rides run roughly every half hour on a tour around the paddocks and last about five minutes. The trailer is probably mini bus size in terms of how many people can get on. Animals around here include donkeys, cattle, alpacas, llamas, sheep and wallabies, yes, they have wallabies.
There are also barrel rides in one of the paddocks. These are a small ride attached to the back of a tractor and cost £1 per child.
~Activities and Events~
There are various activities which take place only at certain times of day. I've mentioned some of them, such as Donkey rides, pony grooming and the tractor and trailer, others I haven't mentioned are:
*Bottle feed the pet lambs. This takes place about five times a day in the polytunnel. It may sound cute but be aware of the time of year. I'm sure bottle feeding ickle baby lambs is very nice but the ones we fed were huge and strong. It wasn't really something a child could do, other than just help an adult hold the bottle.
*Milking the Cow. This happens once a day and I've managed to miss it on both my visits.
*Puppet Show. There's an indoor picnic barn in which a puppet show takes place for about half an hour during the afternoon. I couldn't say a great deal about it because the only time we went in my daughter decided that great fun was to be had by repeatedly sneaking up to one of the puppets and trying to throttle it. After several attacks which caused great merriment to other parents and children but much mortification to myself, we decided to leave and let the other children enjoy the show in peace. I can say that the first puppets up were a hand in glove pig and dog, and the plot involved a wicked witch. There was plenty of laughter coming from the barn as we wandered around the rest of the farm which was now rather quiet. I can add that if you want to avoid the queues for the donkey ride go out while the puppet show is on.
There are various special events at different times of year. The obvious ones are Halloween and Christmas, but there's also sheep shearing time and lambing time to look forward to in the spring.
~The Tea Rooms~
It can be quite a tiring day as there's lots to take in, so a cup of tea is very welcome. There's plenty of seating indoor and out, and excellent access for wheelchair users. It's well kept, clean and tidy. There's hot and cold food available and they will cater for special diets if you let them know beforehand. The prices are quite reasonable. A sausage bun costs £1.80, cream teas are £2.95 and there are a range of homemade cakes available from £1.60. Unfortunately the piece of chocolate cake I tried was rather dry at the end of the day, I was given a refund when I mentioned it. They also sell a selection of ice creams and ice lollies.
There are toilets in more than one area of the farm. At the paddocks there are a couple of portaloos, but there are wheelchair accessible toilets and a babychanging room next to the main toilets. Hall Hill has good wheelchair access with ramps and rails around, one carer with a disabled visitor gets free entry, just the tractor and trailer ride is not accessible for wheelchair users.
Hall Hill run an adoption scheme with a sliding scale for diferent sized animals, it's £20 for a rabbit, deer and pigs are £25 and a horse will set you back £30 per year. For taking part you get a farm gift, a photo and information letter, an adoption certificate, a couple of entry tickets and your name is displayed beside the animal.
As you would expect dogs aren't allowed,(other than service dogs). Birthday parties can be arranged.
Children's animal farms have been in the news over the last couple of years due to outbreaks of E. coli which have left visitors in need of hospital treatment. I've visited a handful of childrens farms and, before this issue was particularly in the news, I had noticed that Hall Hill Farm was noticeably stringent on hygiene in comparison. At the entrance/exit to every area there are sinks or gel dispensers and there are lots of notices up. As well as this I have heard staff reminding visitors to wash their hands as they leave or before entering different areas. On the welcome leaflet a box of text on the front says not to let children put their hands in their mouths and goes on; "We advise that under 3yr's DO NOT touch the animals." I would assume that this has been added since the news scare stories although I may be wrong, but there was certainly evidence everywhere of under 3's touching the animals and indeed, in the small animal barn, having them placed on their laps. I've visited farms since my childhood - a local city farm was my favourite haunt every weekend as a horse mad twelve year old and there was nary a gel dispenser to be seen back then. Obviously the hygiene rules are important, but I wouldn't consider a trip to a farm to be much more risky than a walk in the countryside - it's been found that E.coli can live for months on gates and fences. In my opinion visiting a farm involves a level of 'acceptable risk'.
Obviously you need nice weather to get the best out of a visit to a farm as most of it is outdoors, some events such as the donkey and barrel rides may not be on in wet weather. My only, small, criticism is that I would prefer that they gave out tokens for the donkey rides rather than charging extra for them once inside. It's only a small charge but there's just something I don't like about paying entrance fees and then being expected to pay again once inside. I think Hall Hill Farm is very well run, the animals look healthy and the staff are friendly. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a family day out in the Durham area.
All the times of events I've given are taken from my last visit and may be different next year.
Hall Hill Farm, Lanchester, Durham, DH7 0TA
Tel: 01388 731 333 or Fax: 01388 731 996
I have visited Hall Hill Farm atleast once per year for the past four years or so and have enjoyed each visit. I usually visit in the spring around lambing season as feeding the lambs is the part of the trip the kids like the best.
The farm itself is located near Satley in County Durham. When you first arrive you pull into the carpark where there are plenty of spaces for everyone and parking is never a problem. Once through the carpark you enter the visitors shop where you pay to enter the farm. The cost at the moment is £5.20 per adult and £3.90 per child with under 3's being free. A 2 adult / 2 children ticket will cost £16.00. The shop also stocks an assortment of toys, fridge magnets and you can also purchase some bags of food to feed the animals.
The first attraction you come to is the chick house. In this building the children and adults if they want can hold and pet a small chick for as long as they want. (you are supplied with a small towel to put on your knee incase the chick has an accident). The next attraction is a large shed that houses the rabbits and guinee pigs and in the same way as you can pet the chicks you can pet the animals in here except you are supplied with a soft brush if you want one. Up until this year i would of said this was great for the kids but beware one of the rabbits bit me TWICE, which is not too bad for an adult but if it was my little one i'd feel rather different so my kids just petted the guinee pigs after that. At each stage you wash your hands with alcohol gel to kill germs and are supplied with towels to dry them if needed.
The next stage this year was the feeding of the spring lambs where the children all sit in a circle and the lambs are brought in. The children each get a chance to feed the lambs from a bottle, they don't get much time each but it was favourite part for my three.
After this there are several different penned areas where different animals are kept, these include pigs, goats and more lambs which you can feed with the animal food purchased from the shop. There is also a donkey ride which costs an extra 50p per child but at such a small cost is worth doing.
After the donkey ride you are at the play area which is quite a large play area with things to do for children of all ages as it occupies my youngest who is 2 and my oldest who is 11. From the play area you go onto some more pens which hold a peacock and an avery which houses a few different species of birds.
There are also a few other species of larger animals including llama's and other cattle and a small area where there are childrens play tractors. The tractors are very used and most have a missing peddle or something wrong with them but my little boy played with them none the less and really enjoyed it.
The last part of the trip is a free tractor ride which is a must for anyone with a small boy as he really enjoyed it. The only thing i have yet to mention is the cafe / tearoom which is not too expensive and provides some decent snacks.
Overall i would recommend Hall Hill Farm to people but what i would say is that the visit will usually only last around the 2 hour mark and i think the price is a little expensive for this amount entertainment as it won't fill the full day out with the kids and you'll be looking for something else to do afterwards.
I have been visiting Hall Hill Farm ever since my son was about 3 years old (he is now 7) and I still love it.
Hall Hill Farm is situated in Lanchester, County Durham. 10 Miles away from Durham City and 18 miles away from Newcastle.
The farm is ran by David Gibson and was first opened in 1981 by Jack and Ann Darlington.
The prices that you pay to enter include: Free tractor ride, animals to stroke & feed, playground & Noah's arc.
Over 60's £4.75
Children (3 - 15) £3.90
Under 3's Free
Family (2+2) £16.00
Family (2+3) £18.50
Family Season Ticket £60.00
Donkey rides are available at an extra 50p.
The farm holds special events every year but these should be checked before you go.
We went two years ago for the lambing season and we got to feed the lambs, it was really exciting for my son.
They also have a santa's grotto on over the christmas period and it is really magical (especially if it is snowing which is highly likely where the farm is based) as the Deers are there as well.
For my son's birthday I had his party here and it was the best party he has ever had.
I paid £9.50 per child which included the donkey ride (£9 if you dont want the ride), party tea, party bags, animal feed, tractor ride, party barn for two hours, free guided tour (only if you have 12 children or more), free entry for one adult for every paying child (which I found very helpfull as my son's friends were only 5 years old so it was nice that their parents could stay at no extra cost to me).
This is a great day out for all the family and there is plenty to do to be able to spend the full day there
Recently it was the school half term holidays and by Wednesday my family had started to get a bit stir-crazy. The weather wasn't fantastic but it wasn't too bad either so we decided to go to a local farm, Hall Hill Farm for a day out.
** Where it is **
Hall Hill Farm is located on the B6296 near Satley, Co. Durham in north-east England. It is around 10 miles from Durham city and 18 miles from Newcastle.
** What it is **
Hall Hill Farm is a working farm that is open to the public. It has 290 hectares growing wheat, barley and oil seed rape and also has a substantial number of animals which is the area that is open to the public.
** Price information **
Over 60's £4.75
Children (3 - 15) £3.90
Under 3's Free
Family Saver (2+2) £16.00
Family Saver (2+3) £18.50
Family Season Ticket £60.00
** Our visit **
Before our visit I checked out the website to see if it was open and how much the entry fee was. The website itself is a bit cheap and nasty looking. It has obviously been designed on a budget or by the people who run the farm themselves and though it does include the necessary information, it could be a lot more appealing and could present the farm in a better manner. If you're thinking of visiting, please don't let the website put you off!
The day we visited the farm was open for "pre-season visits" as it is not officially open during the week until Easter. They day itself was a bit drizzly on the morning and we considered calling off the visit but in the end we dressed in wellies and waterproofs and went ahead anyway.
The farm has quite a large car park but it is basically a large field rather than a tarmac car park, so be wary of getting stuck in the mud if you visit during a wet period.
We visited with a friend of mine and her three boys aged six, five and almost two and I took my ten year old daughter and twelve month old son. As there were five of us to pay for we decided to ask if we could have a family ticket for two adults and three children which should have cost £18.50. As we paid however, the cashier said they were running a special offer, which I didn't quite grasp the details of but we ended up paying £14 for all of us which I thought was very good value. I'm not sure if this is always the case but at the time of our visit the only way of entry (and the exit) was through the gift shop, which I'm sure is excellent marketing but it marred our trip slightly as my friend's six year old spent the entire afternoon asking for things he'd seen in the gift shop.
Once through the gift shop we immediately veered to out left into the small petting area where we found a lot of pens containing various types and colours of rabbits and guinea pigs. There was a young teenager in attendance here and he laid towels on the children's knees (over three year old only) and gave them different animals to hold and stroke. He was quite knowledgeable about the animals and had a lot of patience when the children kept wanting to hold different pets. Once they grew bored, we washed our hands thoroughly in the sinks and moved on.
The next stop was a more or less empty barn that had hay bales, a giant plastic cow and a selection of children's tractors and trikes. Despite the fact that the children have very similar toys at home, they had great fun riding around the barn. In fact, I think we'd have been there all day if the need for a toilet break hadn't arisen.
The next place we stopped at was some animal pens containing a donkey, which my toddler was very excited by, several cross looking llamas and a couple of snoozing pigs that didn't wake up even with the amount of noise the donkey was making. The gift shop also sells animal feed and my friend's children spent a happy few minutes pushing food pellets down a drainpipe into the llamas' food trough.
Moving on we went into one of the barns. During lambing season, this is where the lambs can be found and at set times the farm workers bring out bottles of milk and allow children to help feed them. I think our visit must have been a bit early for lambs as the pens held alpacas, goats and some very friendly miniature goats that kept jumping up at the fences.
Further round we came to the donkey ride. This cost 50p extra per child and there is only one donkey so there's quite a wait if there's a queue. The children were helmeted up and waited fairly patiently for their rides which my daughter described as "bumpy but fun". Donkey rides are available for children aged 3-12, as long as they weigh under seven and a half stone.
The next stop was the play area which has been substantially improved since my last visit with wooden obstacle courses, climbing walls, swings and slides. There are also a couple of baby swings where my toddler cackled hysterically on his first ever experience of a swing. However, before the children could really run off any energy it was announced that the free tractor trailer rode was about to begin. This takes place several times a day and is basically a ride on a trailer (with seats!) attached to the back of a tractor which was driven by the man who ran the donkey rides - he seemed to have a very busy day! I asked if my 12 month old was old enough to ride and the driver laughed and said he'd had a newborn on the trailer before. Who takes a newborn on a visit to the farm? The tractor drove through small country lanes and gave a good view of the sheep in the fields around the farm. Despite not being very thrilling, the ride was very much enjoyed by all of the children.
Once back at the farm, we walked back through various pens containing birds. I'm not the biggest fan of birds so I didn't pay a lot of attention to this section but I did notice geese, chickens, ducks and peacocks. Once past the birds I was quite surprised to see a couple of wallabies, both apparently called Beckham (the Beckhams!) though it was quite difficult to see one of them as he was hiding behind some bushes.
At the very edge of the farm was a huge field where a pair of very friendly horses lived and a notice informed us that the Jersey cows were currently on holiday but would be back soon. We spent the walk back to the main part of the farm debating where Jersey cows would go on holiday but couldn't think of any witty ideas - I'd be interested to hear if anyone else could think of somewhere!
The final attraction, and possibly my favourite one, was new to me as it has been built since my previous visit. It is named The Ark and is a wooden construction built to look like, you guessed it, an ark. Inside are some budgies, which I didn't care much for but the star attraction was the very cute and very active chipmunks.
Once we had seen this, the constant whinging for things from the gift shop was beginning to tell on my friend a little bit and we began to make our way back to the exit. On the way we visited a small room we'd missed on the way in where a number of tiny, fluffy chicks were in large plastic box under a heating lamp. Again towels could be placed on the children's laps for them to hold the chicks, and although I was a bit nervous, luckily the children managed not to squash or squeeze them! After another thorough handwashing it was time to leave.
As already mentioned, it was impossible to get out of the farm without going through the gift shop which was filled with a variety of farm themed gifts such as pencils and notebooks with the farm name on and puppets and cuddly toys of animals. There was also a vast array of wellington boots and waterproof coats to buy, just in case you didn't come equipped.
Once outside, it was back to the car park, where luckily we weren't stuck in the mud and away home after a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and a healthy dose of fresh air. I very much enjoyed the day, as did both my children, my friend and two of her children, showing that it is an attraction that will appeal to children across the age groups.
** Food and Snacks **
Hall Hill Farm does have a small café which we didn't try but a look at the chalkboard outside showed that it served simple, homecooked food, including sandwiches, baked potatoes, pie and suchlike at quite reasonable prices. The farm also has a number of picnic benches if you choose to take your own food. Remember not to leave litter lying around though as it is a hazard to the animals.
** Special days and activities **
Hall Hill farm has a number of events during the year including lambing time, sheep shearing, Father's Day (including free entry for Dads), teddy bears' picnic weekend, fairy tale weekend, including lots of people dressed as characters, Halloween week and Santa weekends.
You can also book a birthday party at Hall Hill farm which would make an unusual party, but might depend upon when the birthday was. The cost is £9 per child and includes a party tea, party bag, animal feed and tractor ride.
As you move around the park it is possible to see that many of the animals have been sponsored by groups, individuals and schools. Yearly sponsorship costs from £20 for small animals to £30 for large animals and can be arranged through the website. For this sponsors receive a badge or keyring, photo, adoption certificate, information letter and quarterly newsletter. It also includes two free tickets to the farm so really I think it is excellent value!
All in all, if you're in the area and you or your family like animals, this is an ideal place to go to be able to pet and stroke the different animals. If you need further information you could visit the website at
but don't be discouraged by its tackiness!
There is a wide range of friendly animals to meet face to face including fluffy chicks, baby lambs, pigs, donkeys, ponies and rabbits. Then there are the more unusual animals such as the llamas and Highland Cattle.