Originally written by Peak District Kids Editor, Jenny Lynn, in 2020. Updated in September 2022 by Peak District Kids writer, Lizzie Sansa.
With so many farms dotted around the Peak District, you’d be surprised to learn that one of the only places you can actually feed farm animals is Matlock Farm Park (another is Mayfield Animal Park). Technically, Matlock Farm Park is situated just outside the National Park boundary, but it’s a fantastic day out if you’re visiting the Peak District or staying near Matlock, especially for younger kids.
But there’s more to Matlock Farm Park than just feeding the farm animals. There are no less than three outdoor play areas, a giant jumping pillow, crazy golf, pony rides and horse riding lessons, go karts, an indoor play area, as well as meerkats and wallabies to meet!
Plus, this is one of the very few Peak District attractions that doesn’t require prebooking of tickets. Being an outdoor attraction, this is very handy as you can decide on the day if the weather is in your favour. However, this does mean you may be queuing to enter if you don’t pre book on a particularly sunny, or typically busy weekend.
Getting to Matlock Farm Park and parking
Despite the name, Matlock Farm Park is actually a good 10 minutes drive from Matlock itself, and is set in wide open countryside. There is ample parking right next to the entrance, and also an overflow car park. There is a train station in Matlock, but really you need a car to get here.
Click here for Google Maps location.
Matlock Farm Park is open year round, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day. You can opt to pre-book your tickets, or just turn up on the day as they also keep plenty of ‘on-the-door’ tickets. Check their website for up to date ticket pricing.
On top of this, you will want to purchase a bag of animal feed. This is £1 per bag. Pony rides are £3.50 per child (minimum age 3) and must be paid for at the entrance.
How much time should you allow?
Allow a good three hours at Matlock Farm Park.
Can you take a pram to Matlock Farm Park?
There were lots of prams and buggies during our visit, and the whole park is very pram friendly.
What age is it suitable for?
Matlock Farm Park is a great day out for all the family (grandparents included, as there’s not too much walking). With the animal feeding and play areas, it is especially perfect for younger kids (age 8 and under). But now they have the new play areas installed, kids up to the age of 10 will also have a fantastic time too.
What to bring
Aside from the Rainforest indoor play, Matlock Farm Park is entirely outside. So do check the weather before your visit and dress accordingly. It’s always a good idea to pack a rain jacket, and wear wellies in the wetter months as it does get muddy.
Also bring £1 coins for the electric pedal cars.
There are picnic benches throughout the park for your to enjoy a picnic. Or bring a picnic blanket and find a spot on the grass.
Things to do at Matlock Farm Park
Matlock Farm Park is much more than a farm!
Feed the animals
Follow the one way system around all the farm animals to feed lots of sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys, and llamas. Using the grass nuts food from a bag purchased at reception, hold out your hand nice and flat to feed them. If you are feeding the donkeys or pigs, it’s best to throw the food on the ground in front of them.
From Spring until early Summer there are cade lambs for bottle feeding and tiny fluffy chicks to hold.
And don’t forget to check in on the meerkats and wallabies! There is usually a ‘wallaby encounter’ session, which is displayed on the chalk boards as you enter, along with all the other timed events taking place each day. The wallaby encounter is a chance to go with a trained member of staff into the enclosure, and sit on the large grass mound, while the wallabies bounce around you, and eat food hidden in the grass for them.
Young children especially will enjoy the animal handling sessions, where rabbits, guinea pigs, and tortoises are on offer for a cuddle!
Play in the playgrounds
There are no less than three playgrounds dotted around the park. This includes a tots area, complete with wooden pirate ship and a sand pit.
There is also the indoor Rainforest playbarn with its indoor climbing frame and various slides and scramble nets. Younger ones will enjoy the underwater-themed soft play area complete with an amazing interactive eye-spy panel and soft building blocks.
However, most impressive, is the brand new (2022) undercover play area. Under a huge domed canopy you’ll find an equally huge playground. With two sections, one based on gravel, and the other a gigantic sand pit with play equipment, pulley systems, and amazing driftwood style climbing frames and slides, this is one you’ll struggle to pull the kids away from. Under the dome is also a small café, and plenty of table and chairs for parents to relax at whilst watching the little ones play.
Also new, is the giant jumping pillow, which you’ll find not far from the entrance. Right next to it are several picnic tables, and two food units – one selling teas, coffees, cakes and brownies, while the other – ‘The Smoke house’, sells really good quality burgers, pulled pork, hot dogs etc.
There is also so much green open space for kids to run around freely and practice cartwheels, and there’s even a giant chess set.
Ride the go-karts
The go-karts are £1 per go and lots of fun. These are coin operated, so make sure you bring some £1 coins with you.
There are also ride along tractors here, which was a saviour if you forget the coins!
The new crazy golf course is a bit of fun for all. You can help yourself to golf clubs, but have to buy the balls and a score card and pencil at the ‘Smoke house’ food unit near the entrance, for £2 per person.
Ferret and sheep races
Though not at the same time! Look out on the chalkboard for the timed events throughout the day, and don’t miss these!
The ferret race is always good fun, while you cheer for your chosen ferret as it races through transparent tunnels, over wooden see-saws, to bag the winning ticket a prize.
Likewise, the sheep race is just as much fun. Cheer for your chosen coloured sheep as they run around a track, jumping hurdles along the way.
Pony rides are £3.50 per child and the minimum age is 3. Pony ride tickets must be paid for when you first arrive at the entrance. There are timed sessions for the pony rides. On busy days, be prepared to queue a long time.
Riding hats are provided, and a staff member leads the pony around the paddock a couple of times (lasting about 3 minutes).
Horse riding lessons
Matlock Farm Park’s Riding School & Trekking Centre is part of Matlock Farm Park. You can book anything from a 30 minute to 2 hour lesson. All lessons include free entry into Matlock Farm Park for the rider for the day.
Check their website for further details of horse-riding lessons.
Party rooms and meeting rooms
There is now a purpose built, separate space where parties, or meetings are held. With several function rooms, it allows for several parties to be taking place at the same time. Enquire for further details about parties, and charges.
Matlock Farm Park is a wonderful multi-generational day out, and young kids will especially enjoy feeding the animals and the playgrounds.
The park seems to get busier during late morning and around lunchtime, so I’d recommend getting there early to do pony rides, and the animal handling sessions in order to avoid queuing.
The brand new undercover play area is a real asset to the park, which kids will love, and be able to use in all weathers.
If you are looking to spend more time in Matlock, check out our top things to do in Matlock!