The Cotswold Farm Park is not far from Cheltenham and will provide plenty of family fun in a healthy, outdoors setting. The Farm Park was established in 1971 and was the first farm park in Britain. There is an emphasis on conservation and education in the park, with a splendid collection of rare breed animals, from pigs to poultry. The rare breed displays demonstrate to the public the importance of the conservation of rare breed genetics and farming methods.

There are also plenty of other attractions at the park, including some that can be enjoyed in bad weather. These undercover activities include the Play Barn, where children can play with ride-on and pedal tractors, as well as self-propelled rollers, and also the Touch Barn, where youngsters can get up close and personal with some of the farm’s smaller animals. These include newly-born chicks, rabbits, guinea pigs, goat-kids, lambs and piglets. There is also an exhibition demonstrating how bees operate within a hive.

Other attractions on the farm include the Jumping Pillow – a bouncy, low-level 'pillow' where adults and children and bounce and have plenty of fun. There is also an Adventure Playground with all the usual play-items you'd expect, as well as mini-diggers, a combine harvester, an obstacle course and flying fox slide. If this doesn’t tire the children out enough then they can visit the Maze where they will have to answer questions on rare breeds in order to find the correct paths through the labyrinth and win prizes.

Visitors can also climb aboard a trailer pulled behind a tractor to experience the Farm Safari Ride or visit the Woodland Adventure where children can put their skills to the test in a woodland obstacle course. There are several seasonal demonstrations throughout the farming calendar and visitors can watch a range of these, including shearing, lambing and milking.

But of course, the main reason to visit the park is to learn more about the fantastic rare breeds that thrive there. One of the most celebrated breeds is the Cotswolds Lion - not the maned carnivore, in fact, but a humble sheep! These sheep were bred in the Middle-Ages for their long and lustrous fleeces and were sold in number at huge prices, making many wool merchants in the Cotswolds very rich. This allowed the merchants to build many of the large manor houses and ornate churches that are still visible in the Cotswolds today.

Other rare breeds include the cattle varieties of Belted Galloway and Gloucester; the pig varieties of Tamworth and Iron Age; goat breeds such as Angora and Bagot and horse and pony breeds such as Exmoor, Shetland and Shire. There are many other rare breeds to come and see at the park and to learn more about British farming through the ages.

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