Despite being a huge fan of city farms and self-proclaimed all-knowing Londoner, it was only last week that I heard of Belmont Children’s Farm, located only a short bus ride away in Mill Hill. It’s an uphill walk from Mill Hill East station on the Northern Line, or located on the 240 bus route.
Unlike, most of the city’s other farms, (my favourite being the glorious Mudchute Farm located on the Isle of Dogs), Belmont charges admission, costing just a fiver for adults and £2.50 for kids, although there are deals for families.
Perhaps, it’s just me, but I expected a lot more having paid to get in. The size of the farm is fairly misleading as although the site seem very large, the visitor’s part, is set in a relatively small enclosure. There’s emphasis on more ‘exotic’ animals than your usual farmyard fare, but the actual numbers of animals seemed quite low. Instead of lots of pigs, cows and horses there were ferrets, micro pigs, snowy owls and alpacas. Obviously, this is no bad thing. The micro pigs in particular were super friendly and seemed to enjoy being stroked. I also loved the ridiculously velvety soft rabbits and the grumpy giant rabbit, ‘Bugsy’ (yes of course, all animals are lovely).
As I say however, although the animals are great (and importantly well-looked after and living in clean environments), there just isn’t that many of them. We navigated the farm in well under an hour, despite walking around fairly slowly and re-visiting the micro pigs and lambs a second, then a third time!
As the name would suggest, the farm is very much geared towards children and families. Although, the cafe did appear to attract broader clientèle – specialising in waffles, and open to those not visiting the farm. It looked like a nice place to have lunch with a big menu likely to satisfy most.
There are also lots of chances for children to get hands on with the animals (I was pretty jealous, but maybe adults can have a go if they ask nicely), which I haven’t found that common with the other city farms, and definitely gives it an advantage over the others.
From what I’ve read, the farm is facing closure over complications around planning permission. Despite a few niggles, it would definitely be a shame if it were to close – this part of London isn’t the most exciting area in the world, and the farm brings something a little different. Overall, Belmont Children’s Farm is very pleasant and friendly, with interesting animals and a nice cafe, but don’t expect too much for your money. Although, the farm was open and busy when we visited, I still recommend getting a visit in, in case it does close.