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. ****