Review: Barleylands Farm Park, Billericay Essex

I was invited to Barleylands Farm Park, Essex, with my children to find out more about the Barleylands Explorers Club activities this summer. Book online 24 hours in advance to save 10% and get an additional 10% off using the discount code ESSEXKATE. My visit this summer was my first and we had a good time despite lots of rain showers. 

3 deckchairs saying "we are barleylands" and a play area in the background

What is at Barleylands Farm Park?

Barleylands Farm Park has a range of animals as well as lots of areas to play. The animals are mostly those you expect at a farm: including goats, pigs, donkeys, cows and sheep. There are also smaller fluffy animals like rabbits and guinea pigs and a wide range of birds. More surprising to find at a farm was the huge range of reptiles and the talks by Snakes Alive which were really informative (a bit too informative for my 3 year old, but I learnt things).  Unlike other farms we have visited recently e.g. Marsh Farm or Lee Valley Park Farms it feels like there is a greater focus on education at Barleylands. 

As soon as we got through the entrance I noticed children on little toy tractors. I have seen these tractors in quite a few places, but always limited to a small area. At Barleylands children can ride the toy tractors over most of the site. They need to hop off them to go into the inside areas or towards the aviary which works well because it means no one stays on them for too long and they are swapped around a lot.

When you go in you are given a map and timetable with all the activities for the day, this is a great way to plan out what to do. It includes the chance to meet and feed various animals, wacky races (e.g. sheep racing), tractor rides, birds of prey flying display as well as special activities as part of the Summer Explorers Club challenge. Activities will obviously vary depending on time of year and weather.

A 2019 map of Barleylands from a recent visit

Visiting Barleylands In Wet Weather

We went on a showery day in the summer and I thought it was great that much on it was inside and these areas are well spaced out so we never had to run far to get dry when the rain started. Some of the barns have roofs, but not doors so they will be chilly in colder weather.

Inside activities at Barleylands include:
A Discovery Barn (museum area with old farm machinery) 
The Reptile House
Soft play with cafe
Animal contact barn 
Indoor sand pit
Ball blasting cannons (which shoot foam balls using air)
A walk through aviary
There is also a multi use room that is being used to build an edible worm garden and some other craft activities over the summer. Term time it is used by schools visiting.

child looking at a thrashing machine in the Discovery Barn at Barleylands Essex

Air Ball cannons at Barleylands

Discovery Barn full of old farm equipment at Barleylands

3 year old playing in a sandpit on a rainy day visit to Barleylands

close up of an adult helping a child hold a guinea pig

3 year old stroking a white rabbit while looking at a staff member with We are barleylands on his blue top

The Barleylands Animal Encounter Barn with enclosures visible with goats and sheep

Younger children's soft play area at Barleylands with a red slide and padding visible

Outside activities at Barleylands:
An adventure play area
Plenty of farm animals to see (e.g. goats, cow, sheep, chickens)
A nature garden (Wildlife walk)
The bird display area
Barleylands Speedway (£1 activated go karts)
A tractor ride
A bouncy pillow

An eagle with it's wings out at Barleylands bird of prey display

Barleylands Speedway track with coin operated go karts

A chicken walking on some grass

A 3 year old carefully feeding a goat with both hands

Barleylands Farm Park is actually part of a larger complex including a craft village (mostly closed on Mondays), campsite and Showground. In the Village there is a glass blowers which is interesting to watch and a good sweet shop, but there wasn’t a lot else to interest my young children. People with different interests to us may enjoy it more though and I did miss the toy shop which might have been interesting. 

A glass blower making something out of glass at Barleylands Craft Village

A sweet shop at Barleylands Village

Eating At Barleylands

The main food place is the Tiptree tea room in the village area (a few 100 metres from the entrance of the Farm Park). We went for food around 2pm and they had a limited range as most of the fresh food from lunch had been bought. They were really friendly though and helpful, plus they had a small gated play area at the back. It was quiet when we went in so I was able to put Baby Boy down for the first time which he really appreciated (the younger children’s area in the soft play was too busy for a small baby). 
There is also a formal restaurant called Magic Mushroom and a cafe in the soft play (Play Barn). The cafe has a very limited menu, but it does sell drinks and snacks. There is also a water fountain in this area if you want to fill up a water bottle. 
There are indoor and outdoor picnic areas if you bring your own food.

Play area in Tiptree Tearooms at Barleylands with various toys for children and a picnic bench

What We Liked Best At Barleylands 

  • The Barleylands Summer Explorer Club activities and craft activities (which were included in the entrance fee) were great: Little got to hold wriggling meal worms, plant some cress in a pot (which I forgot about and it grew in my car) and make an edible worm garden from biscuits, cereal and topped with a jelly worm. I expect they have some activities in other school holidays too. 
  • The Reptile House has a very wide range of reptiles and you can even book hands on experiences there (for an additional fee). If they have availability you can book these on the day for a discounted price.
  • The toy tractors were a nice touch to encourage children round the farm.

An excited 3 year old girl on a blue toy tractor

A green lizard thing looking at the camera

A corn snake being held out for a child touch in the Reptile House at Barleylands Essex

A child looking in a glass box with a scorpion in

A complete edible worm garden made as a Barleylands Explorer Club activity

What Else Is Useful To Know?

It was easy to get around everywhere with our pushchair, although we were encouraged to leave it downstairs in the Reptile House (but there is a small lift) and I doubt it would be allowed on the tractor ride either. 
The main toilets have trainer toilet seats you can use and a step for using the taps which was appreciated by my little person.
Parking is free.
Open all year round.
Barleylands Address: Barleylands Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UD

Visiting Barleylands Farm Park in Essex Activities Whatever the weather

***Disclosure: We were invited to Barleylands to check out their summer offering in return for Instagram coverage. I chose to write this post because I thought my readers would find it helpful***

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