“ Address: Longdown / Ashurst / Near Southampton / Hampshire SO40 7EH „
Every year one of the toddler groups I go to has a summer day trip, this year the destination was Longdown Activity Fam which is in Ashurst in the New Forest, Hampshire.
Getting to the Farm
We traveled by car and it was a straightforward journey for us taking about 30 minutes. We approached from the M27 East and from there joined the M271 and the A35, at this point there are brown tourist signposts to follow. The farm has a large car park and on the Wednesday morning that we went there was plenty of space, we met up with other members of our group in the car park before crossing the road to the farm. The road you need to cross is a narrow country lane but it is easy to see any traffic approaching.
The farm is open daily from 10am to 5pm for most of the year, we arrived at 10.45 to allow us time to have a good look round before meeting up for lunch.
Child (3-14 years) £6.95
Saver Ticket ( 2 adults plus 2 children) £28
As our toddlers are under 3 it only cost us £15.90 for the 2 adult tickets which I think is reasonable and consistent with other similar attractions.
Upon paying we were given a leaflet with a map of the farm and a timetable of 'What's on'
There's something happening nearly every half hour including bottle-feeding goat kids and duck feeding. Although my little ones were too young for these activities the 2 and 3 year olds in the group had great fun.
We followed the map around seeing Ducks, Chickens, Pigs, Rabbits and Horses. The water near the Ducks seemed to be extra smelly to what you would expect on a farm but thankfully it was limited to that area. There were plenty of chicks and ducklings for little ones to meet and all the enclosures were large enough to be able to take a double buggy in without completely blocking it. The farm provided a great opportunity for my toddlers to practice their animal noises and see a good variety of animals for the first time.
Non animal fun
As well as the animals there are also plenty of other fun things for little ones to do. There is an area of small ride on tractors for the younger children and mine really enjoyed these. There are also trampolines, an infant playroom, indoor and outdoor play areas and a very bumpy tractor & trailer ride. This seemed to get a mix of reactions from loving it to crying all the way round.
Being a fairly large group we arranged to meet for lunch at half 12 so that before then we could go to the activities most suited to the ages of our children. There are several picnic areas, one of which is undercover and ideal for the summer we are having. We chose to go to the large outdoor area as the rain had held off and it is next to the outdoor play area allowing little ones to play within watching distance. Being a large group we also had a few picnic blankets on the ground so that we could all be sat together and if we were going again I would take a picnic blanket just in case no table was available.
If you don't want to take a picnic there is also a Tea Room and Refreshments kiosk where you can purchase sandwiches, cakes, ice creams and in the case of our group lots of cups of tea!
Health and Safety
There are numerous signs detailing the importance of hand washing and they have 'Germinator' hand scanners to check hand cleanliness located around the farm. However despite our best efforts to keep little ones hands clean our thumb sucker still managed to pick up a tummy bug and was really poorly the 2 days after our visit.
Toilets around the farm were clean, tidy and well stocked, as usual in these places there was a queue for the ladies but not the gents.
There are 2 shops at Longdown Farm which are open to non paying visitors.
-Poppies is a nice little gift shop which sells a variety of souveniers, toys, ornaments, etc.
-Farm shop which sells a range of locally produced meat, fruit, vegetables, cheese, eggs, etc. This all looked very appetising and it was lovely to see local producers being supported in this way.
The website is really informative and easy to navigate.
Would I recommend?
Yes, we spent 3 1/2 hours at Longdown and if the children had been older I'm sure we could have stayed all day. There's plenty to do and as a lot of it is undercover it doesn't have to be good weather to enjoy your time here
I visited Longdown activity farm last week with my son for his pre school trip. It is only 15 minutes from where I live but had never been there before.
It is located just on the edge of the New forest, 10 minutes off the M27 motorway which is south coast.
There is no direct buses or trains there so car or taxi is the main options.
There has been one previous review written on this place which they rated 1 star. I would like to clarify they weren't happy about 3 year olds running riot and the costs of snacks. Now at places like this the parents or carers are responsible for the children so this could happen anywhere really. As for costs I purchased 2 ice creams and it cost £1.45 It would cost that for one in my local co op store.
Here are the opening times and prices for this year.
Daily - 13th February
to 31st October
Weekends in November and December plus daily
from 11th to 24th
Open from 10am - 5pm
10am - 4.30pm Nov/Dec
Last entrance at 4pm
Here's the current prices
Adult - £7.25
OAP - £6.25
Child (3-14 years) - £6.25
Now something I discovered before our trip which is not well advertised on the site is a competition. You will find it under the what's on tab and colouring comp. You print out a picture and get your child to colour it in which then allows them free entrance with 1 full paying adult to the farm. Needless to say I choose this option rather then pay the school price. You are then into a draw at the end of the season to win a family ticket.
On arrival at the farm the car park is one side of the road and the farm entrance is the opposite side. Now it isn't an overly busy road and has a 40 mph limit but I'm dam sure each car was going faster then that and was stood there several minutes until both sides were clear to cross.
I handed over my son's picture and paid for myself and we each had a guide leaflet to help us around. It isn't a huge area but the leaflet showed you what times different animal feeding was on and where about it was on the map.
Our first port of call was the calves feeding, My son didn't want to get involved so I went in with a friends daughter, by the time I had my camera ready the calf had gulped down the whole bottle already.
All the feeding and handling sessions were well organised and any queues quickly went down.
I didn't touch any animals myself due to being pregnant and lots of signs about being careful especially with the kids, (as in baby goats).
There were hand wash stations and cleaning gel area all around the farm. Also a germ buster machine which you put your hands underneath and it showed up the germs still on your hands.
There were a couple donkeys and horses and a huge shire horse in the stable area. Some chickens and ducks and some alpacas. We looked at all these on the way to them trampoline area. This was set in a barn with straw on the ground and 6 trampolines. Some had signs on saying under 3's only under 90's only and over 4's over etc...And nope that wasn't a typo me saying 90's and under lol.
After a while in here finding it rather warm we headed to the picnic area with our own picnic. This was a nice area set on a slight slope with a children's play area at the bottom. But honestly I'm not sure who's idea it was to place the pigs sty's at the top of this area as every now and then the pong from pigs would pass us.
After we'd finished lunch and the children had been playing 1pm was tractor ride time, so we went and joined the queue.We got on the second ride, Well actually my son who went on with my friend and her daughter got on the ride. Being pregnant and seeing the bumping of the trailer decided against it. Then I read the sign saying anyone with back, neck, hip problems, piles or are pregnant or overdue, If you are planning to complain or sue us after this ride don't go on it....
It was amusing when they were coming off saying ohh my bum hurts now lol.
Some of the last things we done was kid feeding again the baby goats, which was quite amusing. The children were all sat with bottles of milk and the they opened a gate to let the kids out and they all went to a bottle and gulped it down quickly. Some kids weren't happy with just the milk and went and started eating the hand towels from the dispenser.
There was also an indoor soft play area and a straw indoor play area, neither of which we ventured into as plenty of other stuff to do. I was shocked when I heard a mum say they'd been bored for ages. We could easily spent another couple hours there but I was getting tired and my feet were really aching.
I would go here again one day.
On the way out there is a farm shop with some fair prices on nice fruit and veg produce. Also the gift shop was small but had plenty packed into it.
The prices were some good some not so good. I brought my son a tractor in a box for 95p but the tractors sold separate of a slightly better quality were £3.95.
I also brought a lovely feather pen for under £1.00
Here's the link so you can take a look.
Longdown Activity Farm (LAF) is located on the North-west edge of the New Forest National Park near the village of Colbury. The nearest city is Southampton and as such it is within easy reach of the M27 motorway. Rail links are not so good as it is roughly between the stations of Ashurst and Totton, which is a good 45 minute walk from either of them. Totton station is the main station and is more likely to have taxi's close by. Bus links are only slightly better as the no.56/56A bus from Wilts & Dorset passes close by on the main A36 road (Foxhills stop), from here it is 5 min walk down a country lane (no footpath, verge only) to the farm. The easiest and most common way to get to the farm is by car. From the M27 pick up the A36 to Lyndhurst at the end of the dual carriageway section at the top of Hunters Hill take the turn into Deerleap Lane, it should be sign-posted. Drive past Colbury Church on your left and the Farm's car park is on about 100 yards further down on the right. The farm itself is on the other side of the road.
~Admission Prices and Opening Times
Opening Times for 2009 were taken from their website and are:
10am-5pm from 14th February to 1st November with last entry at 4pm.
Weekends only in November and December.
Then daily again from 12th to 24th December.
It doesn't say when they shut up for the winter.
Admission Fees for 2009 are:
Adults - £7
OAP - £6
Child (3-14) - £6
A family saver of 2 Adults and 2 Children costs £24.
Children under 3 get in for free. Season, group, birthday parties and other tickets are available but it is best to view the website for these deals.
~So much to do whatever the weather - the LAF experience
The above statement is on Longdown Activity Farm's website and is not my bold statement, so when we were stuck with something to do one weekend Mrs Cad suggested the LAF so we could let BC2 go and have a run around. BC2 was 18 months old at the time and not quite walking on her own, which in hindsight was probably why we had the experience we did. Being local we went without checking prices or activities.
On entry to the car park we saw the entry prices posted on a blackboard. I choked and Mrs Cad said 'Oh dear'. The car-park is not tarmaced and is made up of gravel and on a summers day it is dusty when cars drive around it. By the time we got BC2 out of the car and in her pushchair the dust was getting up my nose as well as the prices on the blackboard. At the entrance to the car park we had to cross the road, which is in a 40mph limit and requires a lot of care. Not great if you have excited children who want to get to the farm just across the road.
Once over the road the metal fencing directs you to the gift shop, which is where you are required to pay to get in. After coughing up the £13.50 (2008 price) for us two adults to get in, we stopped and rearrange ourselves. Even the normally cheery Mrs Cad was mumbling about the prices as she was wiping dust from her glasses and it was down to me Mr Tight-wad to be positive.
'It will be alright,' I said 'We'll find a quiet place to have our snacks and let BC2 have a round around'.
It would have been okay, but the cafe for light refreshments only has about half a dozen tables and these were all taken up. We got a coffee, crisps and a muffin, which came to around £5, which damped my enthusiasm even more. Outside there were some picnic benches and chairs, which was great as it wasn't raining just overcast. The picnic benches were okay, but the bins nearby were overflowing and covered with wasps. We ate our overpriced food and fed BC2 before moving on to the farm proper.
The tractor & trailer rides at 1pm were very popular and we gave up on them in the hope of finding something suitable for an 18 month old. Eventually we found an old barn with trampolines that had netting and age ranges. We put her on the under three trampoline, which worked well even with other little ones there. That was until someone's bigger brother who was probably just three or slightly older got on a booted BC2 in the head. In search of something animal related we looked around the farm at some of the animals in sheds and barns. There are many areas were children can interact with the animals at certain times, but normally when we arrived, there were lots of other people there with bigger children and BC2 wasn't getting a look in, as she would get scared or want picking up. Small animal handling at 2pm was mobbed and when gave up to meet the ducks at 2.30pm she got bundled over by a boisterous boy and started bawling. Eventually after a three hours we left in to get back to a dirty and dusty car, which could have been silver once but was now a horrible brown colour. Mrs Cad was really miffed now as it was her car. I chuckled to myself for awhile. Except I wasn't laughing later when we got home and I was made to go outside and clean the car.
~Activities to do
LAF advertises lots of activities to do on the farm. They say there is Calf feeding, Kid goat feeding, Small Animal handling, more Goat feeding, Pig feeding, Tractor rides and Duck feeding. In reality though only the larger children will be able to get to help with these activities any child under 3 will either be too small or will get bundled out of the way.
The alternative is the few barns and activity areas outside that you can let children burn off some steam. There are trampolines, ball pits, climbing areas and slides, both indoors and outside. These again would be very good however from our experience above the older children tend to run roughshod over the smaller ones and even where there are areas which should be for little ones these get invaded by big kids who aren't supervised by their parents.
~The buildings and grounds
One item that really didn't impress us was the state of the buildings and the areas around them. Most looked like they had been old abandoned buildings that had been pressed back into service by LAF. Although the inside of them had been made to look new, outside the roof and walls were in poor condition. The paths were mainly made up of hard materials such as concrete and paving flags, fantastic for cuts and grazes and in some places they were uneven or crazed. Where there was no paving the grass had given way to gravel or mud and in the sun these were now stony, dusty and potted with trip holes.
In short I cannot recommend Longdown Activity Farm to friends or family as I think it is over-priced for what you get. As for review readers I can say that if you have boisterous children over 3 and you are in the Southampton area this is a fantastic place to unleash your children on the unsuspecting general public for a hefty fee. They can run round unsupervised bashing into little children, feeding the animals and when they are hungry you can give them junk food from the expensive light refreshments area to send them back out into the general melee on the dirty farm. If you have a small timid child then this is really not the place for them.
This review may be found on other review sites under the same username and is also written by me.
Longdown Diary Farm - http://www.longdownfarm.co.uk
Wilts and Dorset Buses - http://www.wdbus.co.uk
Live the life of a farmer for a day! You will have the opportunity to do a variety of chores, such as cleaning out the pig styes, feeding the calves and goat kids, grooming the ponies and lots more.