“ Address: Barleylands Farm / Barleylands Road / Billericay CM11 2UD / Tel: 01268 532253 „
Having moved to a new area I begun researching local places to take the kids and came across Barleylands. I have been a few times so will combine all of my experiences into this one review. When you arrive there is a large carpark. Towards the rear of the carpark is the entrance. You enter into the craft village section of barleylands. This consists of a pedestrian walk way with shops along the left side. There is a range of craft shops including gift shop, blacksmith, glass works, music shop, sweet shop as well as more. These are quite nice to wander round and see if you fancy anything. I haven't purchased anything on my visits but do enjoy browsing I must say. There is also a cafe which has ready made things e.g. sandwiches and drinks cabinet Or order a hot drink and have a quick sit down. I have only grabbed a quick drink out the cabinet and continued on my way. There is also a restaurant on site but I haven't visited this....yet but it does look lovely. Its an Italian and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of also has a nice outdoor seating area. The craft village also has workshops on in its various shops. There is a pottery shop where you can go and try your hand at the pottery wheel or paint ready made items. It looks brilliant and will definitely take my son when he is a little bit older. They also do hand and foot castings there. It is also along the craft village that they have their farmers market Which happens twice a month. It has a host of foods on offer and well worth s visit. Now onto the farm park. This is the section of barleylands that you have to pay to enter. I first went when my son was under two and therefore free. I paid £9, I went with a friend after lunch so at the time was quite happy to pay the £9 for an afternoon out. However I have since been with my husband and daughter now my son is older. I had to pay £10 each for me and husband and £9 for my son. This price includes a ride on the miniature train, which use to be optional but it appears they have increased their prices by a pound to include the train without a choice to pay less and opt out. Inside the farm there are around 10 enclosures which have animals like sheep, pigs, codes, rabbits, ducks. These enclosures are quite large and with the exception of the sheep only have one or two of each animal. Each time I have been the animals haven't been close to the fence and to get a two year old to look into the distance and admire a cow is a hard task. So unfortunately I can't rate the farm as worth a visit. However within the farm park there is an indoor play centre which has a young ones and old ones area as well as a small cafe to purchase ready made sandwiches and drinks. At the other end of the park there is an indoor Ball blasting arena where you stand at opposite ends behind large air guns and shoot soft balls at each other (a favourite with the dads) there are mini tractors for children to pedal outside and also a medium sized outdoor wooden park which has slides, swings, climbing frame and zip wire. There is also the large bouncy pillow which is like a bouncy castle but is shapes like a pillow so you have to clamber up the side of it to get on the top to bounce, not an easy thing to do with young kids but good fun nevertheless. I wouldn't pay to go to see the animals but I would play to be able to use all the pay equipment but do begrudge paying £20 for two adults. Barleylands has plenty of special events on throughout the year for east, Halloween, Christmas etc as well as there Essex country fair in September. For me the craft village and farmers market are a regular visit as I can choose whether to spend or not. The farm is a once or twice a year visit at it costs me £29 to visit as a family and will cost me £38 once my dsaughter reaches two years of age.