We’ve been visiting Baby Bookworm’s maternal grandparents in Wales over the last few days.
He learned to climb their stairs (a big novelty when you live in a London flat) and met some of his favourite animals from Dear Zoo at the wonderful Folly Farm.
This attraction in Pembrokeshire has everything from chickens to camels, lambs to lions, plus massive indoor and outdoor play areas, and a spectacular collection of vintage fairground rides. No wonder it is consistently voted the best day out in Wales.
But yesterday we decided to check out a lesser known attraction close to where I grew up – Mountain View Ranch on Caerphilly Mountain.
It’s something of a hidden gem beside a nine hole golf course in the hills north of Cardiff.
The ranch is a hundred acres of woodland designed for families to explore the great outdoors and have fun in the fresh air. It has everything from a fairy forest and treehouses to goats and a den building area.
It’s also home to a charming Gruffalo Trail where you can track down wicker versions of the beloved Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler characters and spot Gruffalo footprints on the way.
The walk is just the right length for little ones and you have the option of joining a storytelling stroll of the route at selected times of day. It is buggy friendly too.
What we particularly loved was the setting. The whole site has been developed incredibly sympathetically to the landscape so it still feels natural.
Plus it’s not overpriced, there’s no expensive gift shop that you are forced to walk through, and you get fresh air and exercise without realising.
Nor does wet weather dampen the enjoyment. It was a typical Welsh summer’s day when we visited (mist and mizzle – I spent a good chunk of my childhood damp), but that just added to the charm for me.
There are plenty of picnic areas and a big cafe if you are making a full day of it, plus a more traditional play area, high ropes and archery.
We’ll definitely be back with Baby Bookworm once he’s a little older – the Roly Polly Hill looks too much fun to resist.
Entrance costs £6 on weekends, bank holidays and school holidays, £4 all other times. Children under 18 months old go free. Family tickets available. Find out more at mountainviewranch.co.uk