Staring in wonder at a fluffy toy that moves by itself!
Sheldon Country Park is a great place to take toddlers
Where is it? Ragley Drive, Sheldon, Birmingham, B26 3TU
How much is it? Free!
Are there facilities for babies and toddlers? Yes – the toilets are well maintained, there is a cafe for snacks / feeding and plenty to entertain the small people, including a play area for older kids
Is it easy to take a push chair? The farm area is well paved and absolutely fine but the muddy grass is not ideal for prams and pushchairs (I’d say the farm is the real reason to go)
Is there parking? Yes
Sheldon Country Park is tucked away in a fairly built up area of Birmingham, close to Birmingham airport. It’s a welcome green, countryside oasis amongst the housing, busy roads and industrial sites and well worth a visit.
My husband (BP) suggested it one weekend afternoon out of the blue – I hadn’t even known there was a farm in the middle of residential Birmingham. It’s been a tough month in the family recently and a little break from the norm was a tonic for everyone.
Old Rectory Farm, has existed on the site for hundreds of years. In the 17th century it was a dairy farm and home to “Sheldon’s most famous son”, Thomas Bray, who established the Church of England in Maryland, America (I hadn’t heard of him, either). These days it’s a demonstration farm with ducks, geese, poultry, goats, pigs, ponies and cattle.
We were delighted that they were showing the chicks just as we arrived and LP was allowed to stroke one. It recovered quickly after being slightly poked in the eye… Even the hand sanitising foam for after the demonstration was entertaining for our toddler.
The cozy-looking pigs were a particular attraction and drew plenty of smiles from LP:
Snoozing pigs at Sheldon Country Park
There is short path round from the pigsty past some paddocks where cows, calves and ponies graze. We had an up close encounter with a couple of the calves, with LP craning forward in his pushchair to get a closer look and this guy craning right back:
We didn’t stop to check out the cafe but it looked like a nice place for a sandwich and cup of tea if you need refuelling. The playground is for older kids really – it was busy so we skipped it.
There is a viewing platform to watch the aeroplanes taking off from nearby Birmingham Airport and we struck out to find it, pushing the pram across the muddy recreation field. Although we didn’t quite make it (the grass isn’t ideal for pushchairs and not anything special in park terms) we did see some planes flying very low, which LP found fascinating. In fairness, having checked out the website on my return, there is apparently a paved nature walk for those in wheelchairs and pushchairs, so next time we will locate it.
One of the best things about this farm is that it is very compact and easy to get to, so it’s ideal for a quick trip out. We took LP for a carvery afterwards so it was a lovely, simple Sunday treat.
Going to the farm is kind of a rite of passage for young children and it’s wonderful to see them smiling as they encounter these animals for the first time. It’s fun to be able to point out the real-life versions of the animals in books and toys at home. And for no charge, you can’t say fairer than that!
Happy bank holiday, however you’re spending it.