The Big Sheep is advertised as North Devon’s best all weather family attraction – which we were relieved about, as when we decided to take a trip there on Saturday the summer weather seemed to have gone into hibernation, and the heatwave was a distant memory!
On arrival, we were given a map of the park, and told all about the days events. The children wanted to visit the animal barn first, so we bought a few bags of sheep food (readily available from the reception and from ‘vending’ machines around the park) and went to see the animals. There are, of course, a lot of sheep, and we were lucky enough to see a few fairly fresh lambs too! The sheep are all well used to small visitors, and are pretty gentle when taking food from your hands.
We also saw rabbits, guinea pigs and a new litter of puppies in the pets corner, as well as pygmy goats and freshly hatched chicks. From the animal barn, you can catch the ‘farm safari’ ride, pulled by a tractor. This takes you around the park, giving you the chance to meet all the animals out in the fields, from pigs and cows to llamas, ponies and chickens. Once back at the animal barn, you can also catch the train from Eweston Station, which takes you around the lake, where you can watch the swan pedalos and see the nursery rhyme characters dotted around.
In a corner of the animal barn there are some pedal tractors and diggers, which are free to use, and which proved very popular with Max and Eliza!
The rain stopped for a while over lunch, so we took the opportunity to take up a seat on the picnic benches by the Duck Arena to watch the duck racing. Craig the sheepdog herded the Indian runner ducks through a variety of obstacles, and the children loved seeing them go round a helter skelter and across a seesaw. Great family fun, and very well run by the staff.
The children spotted the indoor play zone next to the duck arena, so we decided to give that a try next. It’s a huge area, with something for all ages. The kids especially loved the slides – the wavy racer slide as well as 2 drop slides of varying heights and speeds. There is a more typical soft play area for younger children with soft blocks and ball pools, as well as an area for older ones with rope swings and bigger obstacles. The kids would have happily spent all day in here, as there was so much to explore.
The rain seemed to have set in for the afternoon now, which meant it was really quiet outside, so we made the most of this and went to try out some of the outdoor activities. The Jumping Pillows were a huge hit, and the rain just made them more slippy and fun!
There are a variety of rides at The Big Sheep too. The Twister was a hit with all 4 children, especially Eliza who laughed all the way around, holding her arms out like an aeroplane. Sadly, the Rampage roller coaster was closed due to the rain, which was a real shame as the children would have loved to try that. We will have to come back again and give that a go 😉
For the younger children, the Piggy pull-along ride and carousel are perfect, and allow them to experience some rides for themselves.
One of the highlights of our day was the special event on that day – Matti Hemmings, BMX champion. He was there to demonstrate some of his record breaking stunts and tricks, as well as run workshops throughout the day, where children could try out some of the basic skills themselves. It was a really fantastic show, which the children absolutely loved, and they were gutted when it was over. It has really inspired them all to get out on their bikes more, although I have had to remind them not to try some of the more risky stunts!
There were a few attractions that we didn’t get the chance to see, mostly due to the weather. The Splash Zone, Go Karts and Quad Bikes were all closed, and the Swan Pedalos were also not in use in the afternoon. I can imagine that during hot, summer days these all add to your day out, especially the splash park, which looked a lot of fun. The roller coaster would also be open in better conditions, giving you another ride to experience.
We had a great day out at The Big Sheep. It is about an hours drive form us, so not somewhere we would visit very regularly, but for those who are more local, they offer a deal which allows you to return to the park within 7 days of your original visit for just £5 a person. General admission prices are £14.95 for adults and children over 3ft, and children under that height are £6. It’s a shame there isn’t a slight price tiering for younger children before they hit the full adult price, as it soon adds up for larger families! You can book online for 20% off, which obviously does help too.
If you are looking for a family day out with a twist, this does fit the bill. As well as a few traditional rides and attractions, you have the added fun of duck racing and sheep racing, as well as several events throughout the year, from BMX workshops to toddler take over days and Halloween festivals.