Even though the onward eastward march of Swindon now places Roves Farm in less of a rural idyll than might once have been the case, this great venue (nestled right on Swindon’s door step) still feels rural with a capital R.
It’s accessed down a suitably rustic country lane (what urbanites might recognise as a “pot holed driveway”) from Sevenhampton near Highworth. It must be tough to earn a traditional living as a farmer these days so the good folk of Roves Farm have diversified into green energy and a family visitor centre for those wondering what to do in Swindon. This attraction consists of a working farm, with all the smells and noises of real animals, barns and tractors.
We turned up on Good Friday in desperate need of getting hyperactive kids out of the house and running around outside. As expected, holiday season means busy times down at the Farm. To those used to glitzy theme parks, Roves Farm may disappoint at first. It’s fairly shabby in most respects but that’s all part of its charm. They are currently in the mist of rebuilding after a fire which devastated one of the barns after a fuse box caught alight – it’s been about year and there is still much more work needed to bring the venue fully back to life.
All the facilities have been relocated in a vast steel barn which retains every bit of the home made feel despite its immense size. There’s a ball pit and a couple of decent bouncy castles (always a hit with littluns) and craft tables for the more contemplative or creative. If you’re quick or sharp-elbowed enough, there are toy tractors to pedal around on but be warned – they’re popular!
The animal barn across the way has cute baby animals (this time of year, any rate) to pet, poke and coo over. There were plenty of very hungry new born piglets and lambs when we visited and more than enough goats, ponies, guineafowl and llamas to go round. There is also a pet corner with guinea pigs and rabbits. On previous visits we’ve cuddled fluffy yellow chicks but perhaps this year’s cold weather has delayed the new batch.
There is also a fantastic 3D hay bale maze which may evoke visions of a health and safety nightmare (especially after that fire) but the kids – and Dads – loved every minute inside the pitch dark labyrinth. Bring a torch or buy some glowsticks from reception.
The only let down was the catering – they’ve got temporary facilities in in the wake of the fire, but this hardly excuses a half hour queue to order your fresh food (it is freshly made, to its credit) and then a further half hour for delivery of a ham and cheese toasty or a bowl of soup. With this in mind we opted for a “quick and easy” lunch of two cold sausage rolls, 2 kids lunch boxes, a cake and coffee which didn’t see much change from £20. Since entry for two adults and two kids already set us back £30, you might want to consider a picnic or bringing your own food – which you are more than welcome to do.
While older kids may have seen it all before, Roves Farm is a real treat for under 7’s. Highlights for our bunch was the tractor ride and cheeky, quad-bike-riding Easter Bunny who had the children cheering and shouting for more. Lowlights would have to be the [Warning! Rant ahead!] table hoggers abandoning their belongings across whole tables over peak lunch time period. Why these people (who also seem to inhabit swimming pool changing cubicles) feel they can leave their stuff behind so no one else can use a space and disappear, only returning to collect their precious stuff hours later, I don’t know. Lazy, selfish inconsiderates! [Rant over…]
Little kids will love Roves Farm’s regular organised seasonal activities – nature rambles, scarecrows, silent fireworks. There are also Bug Hunting Weekends planned June 15th – July 14th. I have no doubt my kids will want to go back, although next time I’m hoping the weather is warm enough for a home-packed picnic and I’ll be taking no flak from any table hoggers!
Roves Farm Opening Times
10.00am – 5.00pm. In 2013 11th January – 29th November they then close over Christmas and New Year.
Roves farm Prices
Children 0-2 yrs – Free
Children 3-16 yrs – £7.00
Adults – £8.00
Roves Farm Address
Sevenhampton Nr Highworth Swindon Wiltshire SN6 7QG