The Cotswold Wildlife Park wasn’t originally on our list for things to do in the Cotswolds, but after a day where I’d dragged Max, my 4 year old, around a National Trust garden where nobody ended up having a good time, we decided it would be a good idea to do a day that was more geared up for him. It’s a place I remember my Mum taking me as a child, but that was a long time ago, so I wasn’t sure what it would be like now.
We arrived at 10.30 and made our way straight to the penguins, which are Max’s favourite. We’d timed it really well, as we didn’t have to wait long until it was feeding time, and Max absolutely loved watching the penguins get fed. He loved that they would waddle by so close to him and every time one passed, he’d shout “hello penguin” at it!
It was so hot that day that I think we were all a bit jealous of the penguins, with their lovely cool pool to swim in!
We headed further into the park, passing owls, and other birds, and then coming across Max’s absolute favourite – a miniature steam train! We joined the queue to wait for it to arrive and got on. You do pay a small extra fee to ride the train, but I think it’s fair to say it was both Max and Ben’s favourite part of the day – we ended up doing it twice! It takes a circuit around the park, so you get to work out which animals you want to see next.
While we were on the train, we spied the giraffes, which are my favourite, so once we got off we headed straight there. It was amazing to be able to see them so close up – there is a ramp which takes you up to their level, so you feel like you’re really close to them. Max was absolutely fascinated by them, and especially by their keeper cleaning up the poo!
After that it was time for lunch, and I have to give a special mention to the restaurant, because I’ve eaten at some pretty grim zoo restaurants, and this one seemed to have been recently refurbished and was really reasonably priced too! We had the standard cafe type food of jacket potatoes and chicken and chips, which was perfectly fine.
We spent the afternoon seeing more animals – rhinos, wolves, flamingos – and then we discovered the playground. And it’s definitely a discovery worth making, because it’s brilliant! I’m almost positive this wasn’t here when I visited as a child. Lots of wooden play treehouse structures, with bridges and slides built in. As well as a zipwire swing which Max thought was the most hilarious thing ever!
But when Max announced he wanted to go on the big slide I was sceptical that he’d actually go down it! Off he went, up the steps, and I waited patiently at the bottom, expecting to have to go up and bring him back down. But before I knew it, down he came! He loved it so much that he then insisted we all go down too – it was faster than I expected!
The Cotswold Wildlife Park was such an unexpectedly brilliant day. We’d not planned to visit, but I’m so glad we did – it’s the perfect place for families to visit, especially if you’re staying in the Cotswolds.
Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Bradwell Grove, Burford, Oxfordshire OX18 4JP
Prices: Adult £16, child (3-16), £10.50, children under 3 free (correct at July 2018)