This deer and wildlife park is situated about 5 minutes drive from my house, so we have paid a couple of visits now at different times of year. The most recent trip coincided with their Winter Wonderland and it was absolutely lovely. The trees were all lit up with fairy lights which made for a very pretty walk around. It was still possible to feed all the animals, although as it got darker the birds all went up to roost.
Father Christmas had been set up in a tiny little hut around halfway around. We queued for about half an hour, but it wasn't too cold and there was plenty to see. Santa spent a good amount of time talking to each child. My daughter's eyes lit up when she met him.
The cafe wasn't great when we first visited, but that was in 2007 so hopefully it's improved since.
My only gripe is with the entrance cost. It is a lot of money for what it is, particularly as visitors are then putting their coins into animal food vending machines to feed all the animals for them! :)
Tacky and terrible. We arrived and had a little trouble finding the entrance. Once we paid the rather high fee, we entered and did indeed get mugged by birds wanting seed. The floor was covered in bird poo which I fretted about slipping on on the extremely steep path down. Then we got to the 'Mad Hatter' set up which was nothing more than a dirty old tent and some patio furniture.
There were wheelbarrows and boxes full of rubbish littering the park. The lake was so dark and murky that you couldn't see the fish, and my toddler got covered in muck several times as he slipped on the poopy paths wandering in the woodland.
The chickens tried to steal the food we brought for our picnic out of our hands (seriously, do they not feed their animals??) We went through one gate to be greeted by an angry black swan which hissed aggressively at my toddler. We decided not to go that way...
The donkeys were hidden high up on a hill next to the 'exciting main attraction' which was an old gypsy cart. Nothing interesting about it at all.The childrens castle was nothing more than a glorified shed with some paint.
Tired of endlessly spending money on bird feed for my son to throw at these starving creatures, we left, feeling unimpressed and rather ripped off.
This was part of Prinknash Abbey until the monks left, but the bird and deer park remains open to the general public. As you walk in through the gates you are greeted with a load of birds that will try and mug you for the seed that you have bought and they will follow you all the way down the very steep path until they espy the next visitors. Note these birds will eat out of your hand, but they do get quite enthusiastic and will peck at fingers which can hurt. You then go through a gate and see even more birds and a few ponds. Then you go through another gate and you reach the deer.
These deer will try and mug you for any food you may have; this includes shoving noses into your pocket and bags and really having a good old root around. African Pygmy Goats are also here and to me these were the best bit as they are such comics. More deer follows this bit then it's a long slog up a really steep slope. If you're not that fit it is a bit a climb, but take it steady you'll be fine.
I enjoyed my trip here as did Datcat nephew jr. His face was well worth the entrance fee when he came face to face with a nosey deer. There is also a teashop which serves very nice cakes and tea Just what you need after this walk.
This park is a nice place to spend a morning or an afternoon. It was a good place to spend the middle of the day, but not any more unless you're organised - the cafe has been closed for a while (and still was just under two months ago, it hasn't reopened as far as I know). It's a real omission not havng somewhere to eat and get a cup of tea, a picnic is just not the same. I have an inkling it is going to reopen though. Other than that, this is a fun place to have some close encounters with animals - peacocks, ducks, chickens, deer, goats and even fish. Yes, close encounters with fish, or pretty close anyway, they do look like they're trying to leap out of the water at you. The peacocks rattle their tails in the breeding season, but it seems to be all show, while the golden pheasants in the wood are actually pretty fierce! There are now some reindeer, although they were hiding at the far end of their enclosure when we last went. The owner is Melanie Meigh, who inherited the park from her father Philip after he died in 2008. I didn't go to the park's Halloween event, but it sounded pretty ambitious, so she clearly has plans for the park. I look forward to seeing what they are - but I do hope they involve some tea and cake!
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