Layby Farm, Old Risborough Road, Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, HP22 5XJ
I hadn’t been to this place for years until now. Of all the open farm type attractions locally this is certainly one of the cheapest (I only know of one that is cheaper). It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Mead Open Farm or Odds Farm Park has, but that’s obviously reflected by the price. That said, there really isn’t that much to do here. There’s a small play area, cafe and relatively few animals.
So, on to the centre itself. As you go in the is a small playground area which is nice enough and there are some chickens and ferrets nearby. There is one main barn which has about a dozen pens; sheep, llama (or alpaca, I can never remember no matter how many times I look it up), several goats, some pigs and a miniature pony. There is also some Guinea pigs and rabbits. As far as I could tell they don’t do sessions where you get to hold them. One big drawback was the entrance to the barn. In order to (understandably) keep the flies out they have the heavy, clear plastic blinds you see in warehouses. This does an excellent job of keeping out flies but unfortunately if you have a pushchair you have to go in backwards otherwise when you push through those “blinds” so the bottom of them (the bit that has been on the floor of a farm) slides over the child’s head. We tried just pushing them to the side but they’re really heavy and it’s clunky to do that with a pushchair. Not exactly hygienic and not a problem I’ve seen at other farms before.
Outside there are a similar number of enclosures which have some goats, alpaca (or whichever wasn’t in the barn), geese and ducks. Some place were looking quite tatty, but it is the end of the season. The ducks enclosure in particular needed some love.
The site really is quite small. We took 4 kids between 12-18 months and it only really took us a bit more than an hour to go round. I’m sure though that if we had been there with older children we could have stayed for a lot longer. Also, older children will have played in the playground area if it had been a nicer day. A friend went over the summer and they were there for several hours. How long you stay really is going to depend on the children you go with.
The highlight for us really was the cafe though. I’d already heard that they do good cake and it certainly was. The food was on the higher end of what you’d expect to pay, but I suspect that is because the quality is a lot better than your typical attraction restaurant. We couldn’t decide what to get so the three of us shared three cakes! I can highly recommend the caramel eclair. You don’t have to pay to go into the cafe and there are a number of small businesses within the complex that you can also have a look round for free.
Entry – £4.50 per adult, £3.50 per child over 2, £15 family ticket (2A + 2C)
Childminders can take children for FREE every Wednesday (term time only. Proof of eligibility required)
Parking – Plenty of free parking on site
Toilets – On-site at the visitor centre. The baby change unit needs a bit of TLC but the toilets were clean.
Food – Picnics are only allowed in the picnic area in the car park. Only food purchased on site can be eaten in the farm. There is a cafe.
Rating – 1.5 / 5. It’s cheap but there’s not that much to do.