Fancy taking a ride on the deer feeding train, hand-feeding sheep and trying your hand at goat walking? Ever wondered how ferret racing works, what it’s like to cuddle guinea pigs or see birds of prey soaring above your head. Well, look no further than the World of Country Life where you find all this and more!
Towards the end of the summer, my sister, niece, nephew and I visited The World of Country Life in Exmouth, Devon. It was a highly anticipated visit having heard lots of good things about the attraction and after Orlagh, my four-year-old niece, asking for the fortieth time if we were there yet, when we pulled into the spacious car park, I was pleased to be able to say “yes!”
We were warmly greeted by the staff at the ticket desk and were handed our deer train safari tickets – there was excitement all round I think! Armed with a map of all the attractions and a list of the daily events, we were off!
Taking a Step Back in Time
Our first stop was to take a wander through exhibition hall – a historic snapshot of rural life featuring a large collection of farming memorabilia, tractors and old fashioned phone and post boxes.
We made out way through the Victorian street, lined with old fashioned shops, houses and even a pub! Adorned with items from the bygone era and scarily real looking mannequins this really is a chance to step back in time.
Sarah, Orlagh and Cillian enjoyed giving this old fashioned game a go – does anyone know what it’s called? I have no idea! I think we could have stayed here longer but there was plenty more to explore and a deer safari train to catch too!
I love how interested Orlagh was when looking at the different displays. She seemed to enjoy the toy shops, dress shop and the royal box the most. I wonder if she was just waiting for the mannequins to move!
Making Deer Friends
After exploring Victorian life we headed outside as it was time for our deer train safari ride. We boarded the tractor train and waited for our tickets to be checked. Orlagh and Cillian were very excited to be riding on a real tractor!
The train ride was hilarious! We took a little ride through the paddocks where we were greeted with a huge herd of deer eagily awaitinging their breakfast.
After a short ride the train stopped and the driver brought round a huge bucket of food which we could hand feed to the hungry deer. And boy were they hungry! They weren’t shy either and leant right in to take the food from your hands, leaving a nice slobbery mess on your fingers!
Cillian had no fear and was confident when feeding the deer, he giggled and wriggled when they licked the food off his hands and he didn’t think twice about sticking his hands out and attempting to grab hold of the deer’s ears!
On the other hand, Orlagh was a little more reserved, initially ducking away from the incoming deer and hiding behind my sister and I. After showing Olragh what to do and allowing her to see they deer wouldn’t hurt her, she slowly gathered up the courage to try feeding them for herself. She did this and loved it! Soon she was scrabbling around on the floor of the carriage picking up all the bits of food that had been dropped in order to feed the deer over and over again. I was so proud of her!
It was really lovely to see the deer up so close; they really are such pretty animals. I wasn’t so keen on the llamas though – slightly bigger and more scary looking!
An Abundance of Play Areas and Activities
Next, it was time to explore the many children’s play areas and activities. There is soooo much for the kids to explore and have a go at. From the puzzle pen to the raceway electric cars, to the awesome looking tower of slides there is something for kids of all ages. We spent time in the indoor soft play area for under 5’s where Orlagh and Cillian enjoyed riding around on mini motorbikes and bouncing on the bouncy castle. It was a super hot, sunny day when we visited so it as quite nice to spend some time undercover away from the midday heat.
Back outside there was more to explore including outdoor climbing frames, slides, swings and trampolines. It was funny watching Orlagh and Cillian bouncing each other on the trampolines and making each other fall over – siblings eh! There’s a zip slide, monkey bars and all sorts to explore as well – the kids could have stayed and played there all day!
However, our map told us there was plenty more to explore! Sarah and Orlagh spent some time bouncing around on the air bouncer – a huge, brightly coloured giant bouncy pillow – fun for all the family if your game!
Without a doubt, one of Cillian’s favourite parts of our visit was pretending to drive Harry the Harvester – a giant wooden combine harvester with lights and sound effects. Cillian sat for a good while steering the wheel and pressing the buttons to make the lights flash and the horn blast. He was very good at sharing and taking turns with other little ones too.
Eagle Eyes at the Birds of Prey Show
After enjoying a picnic lunch on one of the many picnic benches we decided to head to see one of the daily flying displays. Sitting on rows of wooden benches we were treated to a fun and interactive display from Hawkridge Birds of Prey and saw some incredible birds. It’s always such an experience to feel the wind in your hair as the birds soar above your head! Cillian wasn’t too good at sitting still for this one (he is only a toddler after all) and needed to be kept occupied with a couple of satsumas!
Apparently Hawkridge Birds of Prey offer special packages and experiences which offer a chance to get up close and personal to the birds and learn more about them – great for a kiddies birthday gift one year!
Pet Centre Fun
As if our day hadn’t been fun-filled enough, we came across the Pet Centre in which the animals live. Here you are able to enter the pens and get among the goats and sheep. A great experience for kids (and adults) and a great introduction to being kind to animals. Orlagh and Cillian were great at stroking the animals carefully and enjoyed walking among them. It made for some very cute photos too!
Orlagh was lucky enough to bottle feed one of the sheep – a new experience for her and one she embraced with ease. The sheep was very hungry and drank the milk very fast so she had to be quick to have a go and then pass the bottle on to the other children. She loved this experience and seemed very impressed with herself once it was over.
Ferret Racing Extravaganza
Heading out to the Barnyard Theatre we took our seats and enjoyed a ferret racing show – defo a new one on me! It was so funny, placing our bets on the hilarously named ferrets and watching them complete the obstacle challenges. I actually wished we were able to bet real money on the races as Orlagh guessed the right colour/ferret every time!
After the ferret racing, it was time to meet Angus the green reindeer – yep apparently they exist at The World of Country Life! Orlagh and Cillian were both super keen to meet Angus and have their photo taken with him – something which my sister said she was surprised by as during their last holiday Orlagh had run a mile from any dressed up animal characters.
Ever Walked a Goat?
Continuing the fun we visited the Old Time Farmyard and made friends with the range of animals that live there. This included chatting to some alpacas, ducks, ponies, calves and some rather smelley pigs! All the animals seemed really well cared for and there were plenty of children enjoying getting to know them.
The highlight of the day has to be goat walking! Yes you read that right, goat walking! After queuing up, we were handed a goat on a lead and we were off. It was hilarious, wandering around with our goat called Betty who was rather quick at times, pulling Orlagh, Cillian and Sarah along at one point! There were certainly lots of giggles and Orlagh just loved it. What a unique and fun experience for sure! I’m not sure who was taking who for a walk though – I think Betty the goat was firmly in charge to be honest!
A Spot of Competition
No fun day out would be complete without a bit of competiion. We enjoyed a round of mini-golf in which Orlagh showed off her putting skills (or lack of!. It was so cute watching her try and line the ball and the golf club up and the concentration on her face was adorable. The mini-course was good fun and even Cillian gave it a go.
Time for Animal Cuddles
Our last timed event of the day was to check out the animals in the Animal Nursery. Here there were the cutest little chicks, rabbits, parrots and guinea pigs. Whilst Sarah went and got us some hot chocolates, Orlagh and I attended one of the daily pet handling activities which was so lovely.
We got to hold guineas pigs, rabbits and stick insects – Orlagh was less keen on the latter, refusing to hold the funny insects. It was nice to sit and have some calming gentle time with the animals and Orlagh sat in silence for ages cuddling and stroking the guinea pigs. Never underestimate the soothing and therapeutic nature of animal handling! Of course, even big kids like me could have a go! Animal handling takes place twice daily and comes highly recommended from us!
Heading Home High on Animal Fun
After a day full of adventures, animals and fun it was nearly time for us to leave. We made our way through the Hall of Transport admiring the old fashioned cars and steam engines. The World of Country Life boasts a huge collection of vintage transport and is well worth having a nosey around – you might even spot some famous vehicles as seen on Downton Abbey!
We enjoyed walking through the Steam Engine Shed too, which is full of vintage tractors and steam engines. Cillian enjoyed climibing aboard the choo choo trains and pretending he was chugging along the tracks.
By the time we had finished our exploring it was closing time at the World of Country Life and we had just enough time to visit the vast gift shop and pick up the all-important pencil and rubber! We left feeling high on animal fun and having had a day of unique experiences and making brilliant memories.
The World of Country Life is easy to find, well signposted and located on the Devon coast of Exmouth. It’s a popular touist town and the family attraction is located next to the Devon Cliffs Holiday Park – ideal for guests staying there! Being just 10 miles from junction 30 on the M5 The World of Country Life is easily accessible from across Devon and is certainly not to be missed if you’re visiting the county!
Opening times are 10am – 5pm every day of the week and the season runs between March and November. There are special events during half terms and the daily programme of activities which include the birds of prey shows, animal handling sessions and goat walking. Check out their Facebook page for current events.
Entry tickets cost £14.45 for adults, £11.95 for children and little ones under 3 go free. There are discounts avaliable for the over 60’s and family tickets too. If you can I recommend buying your tickets online in advance as you can save 10% on day ticket prices – every penny counts and all that! As well as day tickets, visitors can purchase annual memberships which start at £39.60 for children or buy a combo saver ticket and enjoy visiting both The World of Country Life and a cruise with Stuart Line Cruises – something I have done before for an Afternoon Tea Cruise and really enjoyed! Extras such as the mini-golf, the deer safari and raceway electric cars are charged in addition to the entry tickets. Check out more fun on Instagram (there’s lots of cute animals pics!).
We had a fantastic day at The World of Country Life which was full of laughter, love and family fun. I really enjoyed being able to spend quality time with my sister and her children and loved the fact there was so much for everyone to get involved in and some unique first-time animal experiences too! I will never forget Betty the goat walking Sarah, Orlagh and Cillian, pulling them along in excitment or the calming time Orlagh and I spent cuddling the furry animals. When Sarah and the children come and visit me in Devon next time we will definitely have to make a repeat visit!
***Whilst our entry to The World of Country Life and the Deer Train Safari tickets were gifted to us on a complimentary basis, all thoughts and opinions in this article are entirely my own. ****
Whilst having a random hotel break at the Trethorne Hotel & Golf Club in Launceston back in February, Nathan and I visited the stunning Crackington Haven Beach. Neither of us had ever been to Crackington Haven before so this was a lovely new beach for us to explore together.
We couldn’t believe how beautiful the views were and enjoyed sitting on the cliff top overlooking the beach for ages! It was so peaceful and relaxing and we said hello to many walkers walking the South West Coast Path.
The weather was amazing, so sunny and bright. Pretty magical considering it was only February and normally raining this time of year! It was definitely sunnies weather!
Lunch Al Fresco
We were even lucky enough to enjoy lunch al fresco at the Haven Cafe which is right on the beach front. We sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed a tasty lunch and some cold drinks. The place had a really nice atmosphere and the staff were super friendly. I would certainly recommend them for a spot to eat if you’re visiting the beach.
During May half term, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Medieval Madness event taking place at the beautiful Powderham Castle near Exeter, Devon. This was an exciting event based on Medieval times and included lots of medieval-themed activities. Nathan and I visited on bank holiday Monday and enjoyed a relaxing and fun-filled day at the castle and grounds.
So Many Roses
Well signposted, Powderham Castle is easy to reach and isn’t far from Exeter city centre. We arrived by car and found parking super easy and free. Entry to the castle grounds was easy too and we were warmly welcomed by the staff who helped us pre-book onto the castle tours. First, we decided to head to the beautiful rose gardens which are situated on the castle’s east-facing terrace and offer some incredible views over the deer park and down to the River Exe.
I loved admiring all the stunning roses and loved the range of colours on display. The gardens have such a lovely view that we stopped and sat on one of the many benches placed around the garden for a good 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but photograph all the roses – they were just too pretty not to!
We made sure to pop into the chapel too which was super cute and quaint.
Touring the Castle
Next, it was time to check out the castle! We opted for the open house viewing which is when the castle is open to visitors to wander around freely. This happens daily at 13.15-14.00 and there are plenty of guides situated in the rooms who are more than happy to tell you further information about the state rooms or the history of the castle.
No photographs are allowed inside so apologies for the lack of photos. I can, however, tell you that the inside of the castle and the state rooms are stunning! You will just have to go and visit yourself if you want to see inside! There’s grand dining rooms, posh living rooms and a lovely conservatory room overlooking the beautiful rose garden. There are lots of family photos of the Courtenay family too and as usual when Nathan and visit somewhere grand such as Powderham Castle we couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if we lived here! We particularly loved the secret bookshelf doors and spotting all the medieval figures dotted around the rooms for us to find.
We also took the Upstairs Tour of the house which offers visitors a chance to explore never-seen-before family bedrooms and see a more personal side of the Courtenay family home. The guide was super friendly and very knowledgeable. The tour lasted about 45 minutes I recall and is included in the entry price which is great.
We enjoyed the half term ‘Medieval Madness’ event being put on at the castle. Unfortunately, we were a few days too early to enjoy the Knights of Royal England’s premiere jousting displays. I can imagine these displays would have been really atmospheric and interesting to see and I bet they kept children and adults entertained during their half term visits.
We did, however, get to see a fun and interactive show hosted by the Pocketwatch Theatre Company. Here we got involved in the medieval madness and saw lots of children thoroughly enjoying themselves all dressed up and armed with medieval swords!
There was also a tent full of crafty activities for children to get stuck in with, including medieval shield painting – something I know I would have enjoyed as a kid!
Making New Friends
As well as having a stunning castle and beautiful gardens, Powderham Castle offers visitors the opportunity to meet lots of animals too which we were expecting. We took a walk through the gardens to the Victorian Walled Garden which is home to the garden play area and pets corner. Here we found ourselves in a world of roaming birds and even a huge tortoise. There were lots of different animals to see including rodents, birds, pigs, guinea pigs and even a horse and donkey. It was a cute area where children (and Nathan!) could get up close and personal with the animals and make some new friends.
There’s a fun looking children’s play area too complete with tractor trailers and the Courtenay Fort – oh to be 7 again! You can also grab a drink from the Snack Shack which has a vending machine featuring all sorts of yummy naughtiness!
We took a walk down to the Forge too and saw the blacksmith at work.
The highlight of our visit for me has to be the Belvedere Safari Tour we went on. This tour gave us the chance to ride on the tractor-trailer and be driven through the gorgeous deer park to the grand Belvedere Tower.
We loved riding through the deer park and I was amazed at how many deer there were – apparently over 450! Our driver told us many of them were due to give birth to hundreds more deer – incredible! The slow-moving and quiet tractor enabled us to cross the park and get pretty close to the deer before they would slowly move away. I love deer, I think they are really beautiful animals with such pretty faces. It was great to see them up close and in such a stunning environment.
After moving through the deer park our driver took us to the stunning Belvedere Tower, which I thought was super striking. Here we stopped for ten minutes to admire the wonderful, far-reaching views over the Exe Estuary and Topsham.
The sun came out for us and we walked around the tower taking photos and peering into the structures inside.
After our pit stop, we took the leisurely ride back through the deer park, passing many more deer and saw some great views of the back of the castle and the rose garden. Apparently, this was the first Belvedere Safari that had been run and it took about an hour. The tour was £3.50 each and so worth it!
Deer Park Safari tours are also available and run a few times throughout the day. These are also £3.50 and enable visitors to ride for an enjoyable 45 minutes through the deer park. There are some stunning trees and lake views to admire too.
If you fancy a bite to eat whilst visiting the castle then the Courtenay Café has all you need! They serve lunches, cream teas, and ice cream too! We saw plenty of places to sit both inside and outside in the castle courtyard.
There’s also a cute little gift shop too where you can find some lovely gifts and all your usual souvenir bits. There’s also lots of information and models to look at which help you learn more about the castle and the Courtenay family as well.
For more information about visiting Powderham Castle, be sure to check out their website and check their Facebook page for the latest events – it looks like there’s a lot of cool events coming up over the summer months. Entry to the castle costs £10.95 for children (ages 4-16 years), £12.95 for adults and £39.95 for a family of 4. Tickets are valid for a return visit within 7 days – perfect for those on holiday wanting to return and explore some more.
We enjoyed our day at Powderham Castle, especially the Belvedere Safari Tour which I would say is a must to really add to your visit. The gardens were beautiful, the house majestic and the medieval madness event a bit of extra fun! Something for all the family I think and a lovely day out.
*** Our entry to Powderham Castle was gifted to us in return for this review. All thoughts, pictures, and opinions are my own. ***
Beautiful, rugged and natural Dartmoor – surely one of Devon’s most wonderful and exciting places to visit. I fell in love with it the first time and visited and enjoy it more and more each time I visit. It’s natural beauty, wild landscapes and stunning animals keep plenty of visitors returning year after year.
Back in October last year Nathan and I had a wonderful day exploring Dartmoor and all it has to offer. We kicked off the day by visiting the family-friendly Minature Pony Centre and enjoyed meeting all the super cute miniature Shetland ponies! If you’re interested and want to see more cute pony pics you can read all about our experience here.
After leaving the Miniature Pony Centre in Dartmoor, Nathan and I parked up at the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre and walked up to Bellever Tor.
It was a lovely, easy walk through Bellever Forest, amid the tall trees and wild landscapes. There were some lovely views along the way too. We didn’t quite make it up to the top of Bellever Tor but enjoyed the views from the bottom of it and all the wild mushrooms we encountered on the way too.
On returning to the car park we popped into the Dartmoor National Park Visitor Centre – a great place for local information, maps for walks and lots of other Dartmoor souvenirs. We enjoyed reading all about Dartmoor and it’s wildlife.
After a quick rest and a cup of tea, we decided to pop to Postbridge where there is a real Dartmoor beauty spot to explore. Just a short hop from the main road and you are greeted with the bubbling river and famous Clapper Bridge – the perfect spot for a picnic! We sat by the river eating some snacks and enjoyed watching visitors of all ages enjoying the natural beauty of the area and paddling their feet in the water. This is certainly a very Instagram-able spot in Devon – one of many that is!
Driving home we passed through the centre of the National Park and were amazed to stumble across all the wild animals on the side of the road. We saw hundreds of lazy sheep chilling in the sun and saw lots of gorgeous horses and Shetland ponies grazing in the long grasses.
Best of all we witness a herd of highland cows crossing the road in front of our car and later blocking the entrance to the parking area in which we had stopped to have a cheeky hot chocolate! They were so beautiful and I could have stayed watching them all day – especially with their cute calves.
We had the best day out exploring Dartmoor! It started with fun at the Miniature Pony Centre before we enjoyed a hike across Bellever Tor and earned a relaxing sit down by the river at Postbridge. We finished the day by driving through the heart of the Dartmoor National Park and experienced the wild cows, sheep and ponies that roam the moor. What a lovely day exploring the county in which I am lucky enough to live. Take me back any day!
On a sunny Sunday in October last year, Nathan and I visited the delightful and family run Miniature Pony Centre in Dartmoor, Devon. Situated deep in the Dartmoor National Park the Miniature Pony Centre is a great family attraction, fun for all ages and perfect for pony lovers!
We managed to get our hands on discounted entrance tickets to the pony centre through Groupon. The offer was for half price adult entry, meaning the tickets cost just £8.95 for us both. I can imagine if using Groupon to get tickets for a family this would really help save quite a bit of money.
Miniature Shetland Ponies
Inside the centre there is a huge herd of miniature Shetland ponies to see, some in paddocks being fed and others roaming free in the main paddock. Here visitors can make friends with the mini ponies whilst wandering around the paddock and seeing the cute little Shetlands up close. This was something neither Nathan or I had done before so was quite a fun experience.
It’s perfectly safe for you to stroke the ponies and there’s advice on how to do this. The ponies soon make it clear if they aren’t up to any company and simply walk away from you – a sure sign they aren’t interested in being petted at that time. Nathan and I found that trying to take some miniature pony selfies was harder than we anticipated!
There are also some horses residing at the pony centre which were beautiful to look at and clearly looked after very well. There’s even a unicorn present too which was a bit different!
Plenty More to See
Animal lovers will be so at home here as not only can visitors see the cute miniature Shetland ponies and horses but also see alpacas, mules, foals and goats. Various birds including peacocks and chickens can be seen roaming around too. Apparently, some rather different type of animals can be seen also – cockroaches and giant African land snails – we missed these during our visit which I think on reflection I am quite pleased about!
We noticed there was lots for children to get involved in – tractor rides, pony rides and talks on the animals too. I found myself wishing I was small enough to able to try riding a pony! I don’t think I ever did this as a child and now I feel hard done by!!
Tickets and Visitor Information
Further information and the option to pre-book ticketed can be found on the Miniature Pony Centre website. The centre had free parking, is well signposted and has it’s own café – the Paddock View Café serving a variety of hot and cold food and drinks. There’s a gift shop, parkland, and gardens to wander around and both an indoor and outdoor play area for the kids too. I quite like the sound of a pony care day too – the perfect solution for a pony mad child who wants to learn how to look after ponies and get up close and personal with them. Why isn’t this open to adults too!
The Dartmoor Pony Centre was a lovely place for an afternoon visit and we enjoyed seeing a real icon the Dartmoor National Park – the miniature Shetland pony. We enjoyed being able to see the ponies up close and having a leisurely walk around the garden areas too. I can imagine this is a great place to visit with children and with regular offers on Groupon it would be even better if some money can be saved – more spare pennies for ice cream in the centre’s Paddock View Café!
It’s official; more and more people in the UK are choosing to spend their holidays in this country, rather than travelling abroad. The UK has loads of beautiful locations, but undoubtedly one of the most popular places to visit is Devon.
If you’re thinking of spending your summer vacation in this gorgeous county, here’s some information that might convince you to book your stay now.
Why stay in Devon for your holidays?
It’s got amazing beaches
If there’s one thing Devon does well, it’s beaches. In the north of the county, you’ll find endless stretches of golden sand at Woolacombe, plus some amazing surfing opportunities. Down south, there are fantastic locations like Dawlish and Exmouth, which both cater excellently for holidaymakers. Branscombe beach, though pebbly, has stunningly clear waters – ideal for cooling off on a hot day.
Cities might not be the first thing you think of when visiting Devon. However, spending the day in historic Exeter is a definite must. The RAMM (Exeter’s museum) holds great events throughout the year, and the cathedral is regarded as one of the best in the country. Plymouth is also well worth visiting. This nautical city’s best-loved area is the Barbican, down by the sea.
Dartmoor is one of the UK’s most visited locations outside of London. When you get there, it’s not hard to see why. The endless rolling moors and quaint little villages are picture-postcard pretty, and the dramatic craggy tors provide perfect the social media photo opportunity. Hiking is the most popular activity around here, though children often love the chance to go for a ‘wild swim’ in one of the many secret pools or rivers.
Devon’s culinary scene is surprisingly impressive, as Exeter’s annual Food Festival proves! There are plenty of highly-regarded fine dining establishments, which give you and your partner the chance to get your smart clothes on, a dab of designer (or copy) fragrances, and make an event of it. However, if you’re working on a budget, be assured that there are also plenty of other great places that offer locally produced food at reasonable prices.
Enjoy the attractions
If you’re holidaying with kids, you’ll probably want to devote at least one day to visiting a major attraction. There are loads of good theme parks in Devon, such as Crealy, Watermouth Family Theme Park and Woodlands, not to mention plenty of outdoors-based activities. For example, Go Ape in Haldon Forest is a big favourite, especially if you love swinging through the tree-tops!
Make the most of the National Trust
National Trust members will be thrilled at the number of places to visit in Devon, particularly in the south of the county. The walk to Castle Drogo from Fingle Bridge is one of the best-loved strolls in the area, and historic Buckland Abbey is also not to be missed. Greenway (Agatha Christie’s former home) is another highlight, with its incredible views of the river below.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Devon? Let me know in the comments below!