“ Address: Mervinslaw Estate / Camptown / Jedburgh / TD8 6PL / Scotland „
What a disappointment! Visited today after looking at the brochure and website we thought it would be an ideal place to visit, but we were wrong. The only deer insight were kept in an old dark barn. The llamas had a pile of excrement in their shed, opposite this was a massive pile of old excrement open with no fence or cover around it, not very child friendly at all. The working farm environment was shocking, cattle was in deep excrement which had dried to their bodies. The path was covered in excrement near the cattle as well. The birds of prey area looked forgotten and neglected. The go-kart area... what a joke! This is a public attraction that has serious issues that need addressing as soon as possible. Would not recommend this to anyone!
We visited Jedforest Deer Park and Farm in the middle July on a short trip to the Scottish Borders on holiday. The main reason for us choosing to visit here was for our young son to see some animals and wildlife as at 18 months old he loves anything with animals in, on or about.
Where is it?
The park is 5 miles south of Jedburgh on the A68. The road that takes you to the park is a bit rough and ready and really has only room for cars to go one way, but there are passing places. There is a small car park but at busy times it seems there is an overflow car park as I saw signs for it but didn't go there.
You enter the deer park through the souvenir shop and Twizzles tea room. As we had arrived at lunch time and thought it was probably best to feed our son first before the animals we opted to go to the café first.
There are both and indoor and outdoor area to the café and depending on the weather you can choose where to sit. I do have to say it is a limited menu, burgers sandwiches jacket potatoes and tray baked cakes. We decide on a normal beef burger you can have cheese burgers or venison burgers but as we had come to see deer I couldn't quite bring myself to eat a venison burger. We ordered a tuna sandwich in a roll for our son. These we all made fresh and as such there was a wait whilst they were made. This gave my son chance to try to catch one of the loose chickens and peacocks that were running around the place. The highchairs that were there for use were very clean and had good working safety harness. They asked us if we wanted our sons sandwich first whilst we waited for the burgers to be cooked which I thought was very child friendly of them. The sandwich was in a lovely fresh roll bursting with tuna. Unfortunately my son was too distracted by everything to eat it straight away. When our burgers arrived they were proper chunky meat burgers and you could taste the meat. The salad bits with it were also lovely and crisp and fresh. As our son was still too busy watching animals and other children the café staff offered to wrap the sandwich up for us to take with us to see if he would eat it on the way round.
The toilets and baby changing facilities
We decide to make use of these before setting off both the male and female toilets had baby changing areas so either mum or dad can do it. On this occasion my husband lost the toss and changed our son and reported back how clean they were. In the area in the female toilets it was clean and had a few toys around the place for crawlers to play with whilst you bundled up the change bag.
The park itself.
On going through the entrance and up the path we passed some aviaries so of we went to look at the birds. In this section there were various owls including Tawny Owl (Strix Aluco), Barn Owl (Tyto Alba), Long Eared Owl (Asio Otus), Little Eared Owl (Asio Flammeus) and Little Owl (Athene Noctua). These birds certainly looked well fed and happy and the aviaries contained perches, wood and water. My son was fascinated by the birds especially by both the Barn Owl and the Snowy Owl because of their white plumage and it took a bit of persuading to get him to move on to the next bit.
As you walk on you then come to an open grassy area with enclosed fields to the sides. The fields contained various animals. The grassy area was dominated by various outdoor play equipment for children of various ages to play on as well as lots of picnic benches.
My husband managed to resist temptation to try the play equipment straight way so we went off to see some of the other animals.
The first animal we saw was a Shetland pony that reminded me of the Thewell pony it was so round. If you want you can request of a pony ride for children, as we didn't do this I am unsure how much extra this would cost you. The pony was very friendly and certainly gobbled up some of the animal food we gave it. By the way you can purchase animal food in polestrine cups to feed the animals as you go round and I would definitely recommend you do this.
We then saw some rare breed sheep these along with all the animals at the park are obviously used to being feed by the visitors so came up to see if we had any food. This gave my son the opportunity to stroke them as we feed them.
The next animal area was the llamas these again came trotting up to see us they tried to bully their way to the front of the queue to get the food. Because of their size my son was a bit uncertain of them and wanted to be held during this time. Because these animals are a bit boisterous I would say that toddlers and young children do need to be closely watched in this bit.
The other animals in this area where some donkeys and a goats. The goats quickly got jealous of us feeding the donkeys and one jumped over the fence to come to help himself to the food. This I think unsettled me more than my son and he was happy being held by husband watching them where as I had visions of it head butting us. This never came true and in fact it soon got bored of us and wandered of to see some other animals and people.
We left this central area to follow one of the walks up to see the deer and cattle. This walk initially took us through a woodland area in which we went to visit some rare breed pigs. These must have been busy trufflling in the mud earlier and were so worn out that they were laid down snoring away and I mean snoring, they were so loud they could rival a jumbo jet. Till this moment I never realized that other animals other than humans could snore. Also in this wooded area was further outdoor play things these were all made of wood and consisted of forts bridges and slides. There were also go karts for children to play on.
As you leave the wood you follow the path round to more fields with high fences and these are the fields for the deer. The fences are deliberately high to stop them escaping.
The park has four types of deer they are:
1) Fallow deer these are the most common species of deer found in parks, as they are decorative and very pretty to look at. They vary in coloring from black, to shades of brown with spots, to white. Their antlers are palmated which means they are cast and re-grown each year. Fallow represent the second-most numerous breed of farmed deer.
2) Sika deer which were originally introduced into Britain from the Far East. The wild ones that are found in Britain today are all descended from ones which had escaped from deer parks and are increasing in numbers. In summer their coat is brown with white spots which become darker in winter till the spots disappear. They have a very distinctive white rump patch which enlarges when the animal is startled.
3) A herd of 80 Red Deer hinds are run as a commercial enterprise. The park is aiming to recreate the medieval deer park atmosphere, where the eating quality and well being is the main priority. These deer are handled just once a year to wean calves and treat hinds and calves for worms and lice. Calves spend their first winter housed inside
4) White red deer. White Red Deer are Natural Red Deer showing white genes on both male and female lines. Not to be mistaken with albino animals these have true brown eyes, and not blue or white as in albinoism.
The white red deer occur naturally in the wild, hence reference to white hart in pub and hotel names. The white deer is also associated with good luck omens, especially for travelers.
White males are very rare indeed, and the park is considered the foremost white breeding herd in the country.
We were able to see all of the various deer in different fields as we walked around the park. The paths were grassy but we were more than able to push our son in his pushchair along them without too much difficulty. The deer certainly looked majestic as they sat amid the grass and in parts you need to look closely to see their heads peering over the grass to watch you. The red deer where the largest and most noticeable and there were several imposing stags in the field and it was easy to take photos of them as they sat admiring their herd of females. Both the Fallow deer and Sika deer where very friendly and a couple of them wandered over to us to take some food from our hands this enthralled my son who was able to put his hands through the net to give them a stroke. Again this close contact made for great photos of us all either with deer or them coming towards us. During this time my son finally ate the sandwich that we had bought for him and I have to say there wasn't a crumb left he gobbled it up.
After the deer you were faced with the choice of taking a walk around to some of the ponds and seeing some cattle and ponies or going back to the main area. We were able to see a field with some ponies in and a few cattle so we decide to do this part of the walk to see those before returning to the main area.
Both the cattle and the ponies though great to look at were probably the least friendly of the animals at the park as none of them came over to see us but my son enjoyed admiring them from afar.
We then made our way back to the main area as we wanted to watch the bird of prey display. This took place in the picnic area and involved several of the parks birds of prey. The man doing the display flew the birds over head from various posts to trees telling us lots of information about the different breeds of the birds he was flying. On the occasion that we went he flew a Red-Tailed Hawk, a Common Buzzard and a Ferruginous Hawk. One of the things that impressed me was all the while that he was talking and the birds were flying, a few hens were running around our feet and not once did the birds of prey try to go for them or scare them despite being more than able in the wild to taking a something as big as a hen. The talk lasted about 20 minutes After the talk ended we went over to see the aviaries for the birds of prey as did several others and we saw more of the birds that they have which includes a few eagles. The handler who was putting the birds back to their perches was very friendly and answered several of our questions about the different birds.
After this we let our son play on some of the play equipment which went down well.
As we worked our way back to the beginning we called in at the indoor play area which is in one of the barns. This includes one thing that I remember loving to do as a child swinging on a rope in to masses of hay and generally jumping around in the hay bales. There were several older children there who where whooping with delight as they did this. Our son meanwhile was more than happy to play on all the peddle tractors or push along tractors that he could find. These were miniature versions of the normal tractors you would see on a farm. The children could also could climb and slide down into the hay but this was just a bit too big for my son to enjoy.
The park states that its "100% disabled access using the quad safari for wheelchairs, helpers and special needs". Now though we didn't use this I am not sure if you need to book in advance a quad safari but I can see that certain parts of the park may be unsuitable for a wheelchair as I would imagine it would be hard work trying to push a wheel chair over some of the roots in the woods and may risk someone falling out. The main area of the park with the birds of prey and goats etc would be ok in my opinion for a wheelchair. Access in and out of the café and shop is all on a slope for both wheelchair and pushchair access.
Other things the park does.
We didn't sample or take part in everything that the park does these include feeding lambs. They also run at extra expense of course children's parties Owl Walks falconry days and you can even hire a bird of prey to come to your wedding!
I thought this was a fabulous visitor's attraction and well worth its admission fee. You can spend hours there as a family enjoying the animals, scenery and all the different play equipment. We will definitely visit again when we go to the Scottish Borders next. The only disappointment for me was that there was no homemade cakes in the tea room just bought in tray bakes, but that is me being picky and it certainly isn't losing a star for that.
Easter - end August: 10am - 5.30pm
September - end October: 11am - 4.30pm
Children / OAP: £3.00
Under 5's: FREE
Family Ticket: 2 adults + 2 children £14
Jedforest Deer & Farm Park
Tel: 01835 840364
Fax: 01835 840362
Thanks for reading I know it was a long one! Jillycat x