We visited Ballycross Apple Farm last year and had a great day out so once the boys saw pumpkins appearing in the shops they suggested a return trip.
A lot has changed since our first visit last year, so rather than just repost last year’s blogpost I’ve decided to do this little update. I’m happy to report the changes are all for the better. We were delighted to see that there’s now a signpost in Bridgetown village showing which road to take we had difficulty finding it last year.
The first thing visitors will notice on arrival at the farm is that admission is no longer free to the courtyard area where the animals are. We were very surprised last year that entry was free unless you wanted to go on the trails, so it’s not surprising that there’s an admission charge now. You can still go to the shop and café free of charge though. You pay your admission in newly designed shop on the way in, it’s €3.50 per adult, €2.50 per child, and €15 for 2 adults and 4 children. I was quite surprised to be charged for Laoise as most places don’t charge for under 2’s and when I questioned it I was told that there was lots for her to do, and to be fair there was.
The first thing we noticed when we went in through the new apple shaped entrance to the courtyard was the “apple crate maze”. A simple idea, upended apple crates, some netting and a wooden frame gave the kids loads of fun, even moreso it was child height and difficult for adults to come chasing the small ones which made it lots more fun.
In other changes the carpark is now fenced off which means you enter through the shop. Closing off the car park also gives a really safe place for kids to play, and this is enhanced by lots of toy tractors to ride around on and blackboards to draw on attached to the fence. The free horse and trap rides go to the pumpkin patch from here, a real highlight of our visit. We were lucky to be hanging around the blackboard area when the horse and trap rides were starting so we didn’t have to queue as such, so I’m not sure how long you might need to wait if it’s busier.
We visited the animals in their pens, horses, donkeys, a huge pig, lots of birds, rabbits, some teeny ponies and some move. Laoise was delighted with the animals and spent some time outside on the raised viewing area watching turkeys, ducks and geese.
The kids played for ages on the tractors fighting over who got to drive which one, and drew on the blackboard before they noticed the man getting the horses ready to draw a cart so they began to pester us to go on it. So, with no extra charge we did. We sat up on the bales in the back of the cart and jaunted down to the pumpkin patch, the kids squealing with delight when the horses went fast.
When we came back from the horse and cart ride we followed the pumpkin trail the short walk to the pumpkin patch. Laoise managed the walk, it was a bit muddy I’d think for the buggy this time, but a sturdy three-wheeler would probably have fared fine. We stopped to do some nature-spotting and collected conkers and leaves on the way through the wooded trail. (which reminds me, I must empty them from my coat pockets).
We had a good walk around the pumpkin patch and orchards, the boys remarking at how big the pumpkins were and the small girl trying to lift most of them, she kept getting tangled in the vines and tripping though so she made the return journey in her sling.
Back at the courtyard we had waffles from the café, sitting outside on the deck in the warm October (!) sunshine, the kids played in the little shed that’s converted to a playroom and kitted out with toys and Ikea furniture, the small ones loved it.
Finally we visited the shop on our way home and bought many apples, some juice and pumpkins. Since the loads are heavy they had a handy cart to pull our produce back to the car, but Cathal took a ride too.
We had a lovely day out and highly recommend checking out Ballycross during apple and pumpkin season- information is available on their facebook page.
Disclosure: We paid for both our admission and our produce and I wasn’t asked to do a review. All opinions in this post are my own, or the kids’.
All images: Sinéad Fox