We've been visiting Rays Farm since my eldest was a toddler and every time we've gone, we've always had a lovely day.
The farm, set in rolling Shropshire countryside, is a rural idyll, full of simple pleasures that get children out into the fresh air, finding out about animals and nature.
Over the years new features have been added such as the activity barn which has a soft play area for toddlers, perfect for if the weather is colder, and also the new sandpit area.
But my sons still love walking through Mythical Woods trying to pull Excalibur from the stone or seeing if their feet fit into the stone boots by the giants chair - although it's been many years since their toes were tiny enough to fit inside!
We visited Rays Farm on a beautiful sunny day at the start of the summer holidays with our friends Eleanor and Imogen.
During the summer there's a choice of trails either the Ladybird and Bug trail - suitable for little ones - or an orienteering trail for older children. The trails change throughout the year and include an Easter Egg trail in spring and a spooky forest trail in October half term for Halloween. As we had a mix of age groups, the children worked together to complete the Ladybird and Bug trail which takes you around the site.
Our first stop was at the small animal barn where we were introduced to Angel the white-spined African pygmy hedgehog. The barn is also home to pygmy goat kids (who in our opinion are the stars of Rays Farm!) and a badger faced sheep called Jemima, along with a collection of Guinea pigs and rabbits.
The pens are low, enabling toddlers to have a good view of the animals, while keeping them secure. There are also animal encounters spaced out throughout the day, to allow children to get closer to the animals, stroke and hold them, supervised by staff from Rays Farm who are able to answer questions.
Make sure you pick up a couple of bags of animal food when you come in as there are lots of opportunities to feed the animals too - just look out for the signs by the enclosures. If there's a tick you can feed them, if there's a cross you can't, which is nice and easy for the little ones to understand.
After visiting the owls, fallow deer, reindeer called Frosty and Mistletoe, pigs and horses we headed into the woodlands - you can choose to do the Mythical Woodlands Walk or Fairytale Forest Walk, or both, which will take you approximately one hour. Little ones will love recounting their favourite nursery rhymes when they encounter wooden sculptures along the way while there's a forest play area with scramble nets and ropes for older ones.
We then headed into the main goat paddock where you can mingle freely with friendly pygmy goats who enjoy being petted as much as we liked stroking them!
The funniest animal had to be Carlos, a six-month old Llama who followed us up and down the goat field trying to catch our attention by fluttering his luscious, long lashes, to encourage us to stop and feed him. It worked! What a charmer!
You are welcome to bring a picnic to Rays Farm as there is plenty of seating. Or you can order hot food or sandwiches from the Country Cafe and sit inside in the cafe where there is a play corner and books to read and buy, or in the sunny courtyard. We enjoyed Paninis and chips but we also found the children's meal of beans, chips and sausage particularly good value.
Here's what our Raring2go! Roving Reporters thought about Rays Farm:
Imogen, aged 5, said: "I liked feeding and stroking the goats best - they were cute!"
Eleanor, aged 9, said: "I liked the goats as they were so friendly. I also liked playing in the stream and sitting on the big chair."
Zach, aged 10, said: "I liked holding the hedgehog called Angel. I'd never seen a white hedgehog before. The man explained that she had come to the farm to be looked after as she was an unwanted pet,"
Adam, aged 13, said: "It was a really hot day so it was great to be able to paddle in the stream, making a dam with the stones."
To visit Rays Farm website please click here.