13 of the best animal encounters in Cheshire
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Cheshire is well known for the world-renowned Chester Zoo and every year thousands of visitors pass through its gates excited for the chance to get close to exotic, and endangered species.
Away from the tourist crowds, however, there are plenty of other opportunities to meet some incredible creatures in Cheshire – from small family-run farms, falconry displays and petting zoos, we have it all.
Here is our round-up of 13 of the best alternative animal encounters in Cheshire to enjoy this summer.
Located at Blakemere Craft Centre, close to Northwich, Cheshire Falconry is one of the leading falconry centres in the UK with the opportunity to see owls, buzzards, hawks, and eagles as well as witnessing daily flying displays (April to September). There are several bookable experiences including an Owl Encounter and Eagle Adventure, giving visitors the opportunity to witness these extraordinary birds up close, under the guidance of an expert falconer.
Wheelock Hall Farm
A delightful family-run farm situated close to Sandbach, Wheelock Farm allows visitors the chance to feed their friendly animals including pigs, sheep, donkeys, chickens, and ducks while enjoying a meal or cake from their tearooms. Also on site, there is an excellent outdoor play area featuring ride-on miniature tractors, a garden centre and well-stocked farm shop.
Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre
Nestled in 50 acres of Cheshire countryside, Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre is a working stud farm, breeding champion shire horses and allowing visitors the chance to meet up to 30 of these statuesque creatures at any one time, alongside pony grooming and animal feeding. Open daily, the centre is located two miles north of Tarporley and set in a picturesque position overlooking a small lake and adjacent to woodland trails.
Tatton Park Farm
Tucked away on the Tatton Park Estate close to Knutsford, the Tatton Park farm is a 40-acre working farm open to visitors during the warmer months. With a commitment to supporting conservation, breeding and promotion of rare breeds, the farm is a great place to see some more unusual farm animals including the Leicester Longwool sheep and Tamworth pig. As well as animal talks and demonstrations, the farm has a woodland trail, den building, and has an all-weather play area for little ones to enjoy.
Walton Hall & Gardens Children’s Zoo
A firm family favourite, the popular zoo at Walton Hall & Gardens, Higher Walton, Warrington, has been entertaining children of all ages since it first opened its gates in the early 1960s. Adjacent to an impressive play area and newly opened Jungle Parc high-ropes course, the Children’s Zoo is free to enter and includes six bird aviaries, wandering peacocks, rescue animals a-plenty and three alpacas, Jim, Mally and Topaz, who are often spotted on walks around the park.
Woodlands Alpaca Farm
A small family-run farm located in Thelwall, Warrington, Woodlands Alpaca Farm is primarily focused on showcasing their magnificent, and much-loved alpacas to the local community through educational visits and alpaca walks. Currently, you can contact the farm directly to arrange visits and walks with all proceeds being donated to the Guillain-Barré Syndrome Charity, a cause close to the owners' hearts.
Church Farm Park, Wirral
With stunning coastal views across the Dee Estuary to North Wales, Church Farm Park on the Wirral Peninsula is a full day out for the whole family. The farm is home to meerkats, sheep, pigs, chickens, alpacas, donkeys, emus, and geese as well as tractor and barrel train rides. Also onsite, the indoor sandpit and pedal go-kart track alongside an outdoor adventure playground, maze and animal feeding will keep children of all ages entertained come rain or shine.
Gauntlet Birds of Prey
Considered one of the largest collections of birds of prey in the UK, Gauntlet Birds of Prey just outside Knutsford, houses eagles, owls, vultures, hawks, and buzzards. Visitors can enjoy animal talks, flying displays, and the opportunity to feed farm animals and spot the mischievous meerkats. While visiting, children can join the passport trail to tick off the birds they see, as well as enjoying a wooden playground and sandpit next to to the picnic area.
Lakemore Farm Park
A charming farm park tucked away in countryside north of Crewe; Lakemore Farm Park is the perfect place for young children who are keen to get close to some sociable farm animals. A manageable size, the farm is centred around a large play area with picnic tables and several animal enclosures housing sheep, goats, cows, pigs, chickens and ducks all keen to be fed. Also on site, there is a mini-golf course, indoor play barn and nature walk.
The Garden House, Marple
Relying entirely on donations, The Garden House in Marple is a registered charity and community farm supporting children and young adults with complex needs. For a small, suggested donation of £3, visitors can support the ongoing project work and enjoy time spent within the farm’s 27 acres, with views of the River Goyt. As well as riverside walks, the farm is home to a collection of animals, a café, sensory garden, picnic and play areas.
Situated on the fridges of Delamere Forest, Oakmere Alpacas is a quaint set-up offering alpaca walks and afternoon tea to accompany an alpaca meet and greet, a completely unique way to celebrate a birthday party or celebration. The Chilli Bean Café is open to the public Tuesday to Sunday and allows visitors to indulge in lunch or a slice of cake while overlooking these unusual, and slightly comical, fluffy animals.
With views across the Weaver Valley towards Frodsham Hill, Hillview Llamas offers visitors pre-bookable two-hour country treks spending time learning about the handling, husbandry, and the individual characteristics and personalities of the llamas. The trekking packages cater for up to two adults and two children making it the ideal family-friendly adventure to enjoy while taking in the beautiful rolling Cheshire countryside views.
Wild Wings Birds of Prey
Run entirely by volunteers, Wild Wings Birds of Prey located in Warrington, is first and foremost a rescue and conservation centre for both wild and captively bred birds of prey. As a registered charity, Wild Wings is supported in its work by visitors to the centre, sponsorships, experiences, and educational displays as well as donations. Open to the public Thursday to Sunday, the centre is home to owls, hawks, falcons, eagles alongside a family of ferrets and racoons.
About the author
Jenny Schippers is a travel writer and blogger providing a daily dose of inspiration for days out, places to eat and where to stay in her home county of Cheshire. Follow her adventures on Instagram at Girl About Cheshire