The first lambs of spring have been born, chicks are hatching every week, and three giant tortoises plod around on the grass. Not a sight you expect to see in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, but the warmer weather signals the start of the new season for Hesketh Farm Park, home to tortoises Samson, Delilah and George.
Following a busy 2018, farmers Chris and Sue Heseltine have invested in the Bolton Abbey farm park to deliver new and exciting attractions for their visitors, whilst providing a safe environment for all ages. The team at Hesketh Farm Park are getting ready for a busy Spring, with the gates opening for half term on Monday 25th February.
New play equipment has been built for babies, toddlers and big kids, and popular rides have been renovated. Outside, a huge new sandpit has been built with three interactive play zones. In the Sand Works, children can interact with each other by moving sand along the shoots, tubes and interlinking tables. Three new sand excavators have been added to the sand pit, so aspiring builders and engineers can move mountains of sand using the levers, pivot and scoops. For the little ones, new brightly coloured buckets, spades and sand toys are available to keep them entertained for hours.
As well as the new sand pits, the climbing frames have been given a spring clean and the go kart track has been renovated. Perhaps most excitedly for would-be farmers, there’s now a new Big Green Tractor to sit on, so they can pretend to be Farmer Chris taking visitors around the fields.
Chris Heseltine, or Farmer Chris as he’s known to visitors, is excited about the new attractions for 2019. “We opened up Hesketh to the public almost 15 years ago, and since then we’ve kept adding new attractions like the go kart track and the indoor maze. This year we wanted to make sure that there is something new for all our visitors whether they’re here for their first time or have been coming for years.”
And it isn’t just the play areas that keep children coming back year after year. Hesketh is still a working farm, with over 1000 livestock including cattle, sheep and pigs grazing over the land. The park itself sits on 10 acres of idyllic farmland, with a large covered barn home to calves, lambs, pigs and their piglets. Children can be hands-on with the animals, with lamb feeding, pig brushing and egg collections all offered to the public throughout the day.
Chris’ wife Sue works on the farm with their team of seasonal staff. They delight in the enjoyment that visitors get when they are up close with the animals.
“Living in such a rural part of the country, it is easy to forget that a lot of the children who visit us haven’t been this close to farm animals before. When we invite them to feed the lambs or hold a Guinea pig on their knee, they are always so excited. The tortoises are free to wander around the farm during the day, and they tend to be greeted by every emotion from sheer terror to curiosity to exhilaration.”
“We do get a lot of visits from schools, pre-schools and community groups, and still offer catered birthday parties. We’re hoping for another hot summer like last year, so that visitors can take advantage of the new outdoor activities on offer, but we’re from Yorkshire so that’s why we also host a lot of our activities within the barns, for those rainy days.”
This year, after half term finishes Chris and Sue will be opening the park gates every weekend in March before opening fully again in April.
“Normally we only open for February half term and then close again until April. This year we’re going to be open on the weekends in between and we’re hoping to see lots of new and returning visitors.”
You can read more about Hesketh Farm Park on their website.