Written on: 06/05/2004 by Groovee (27 reviews written)
Free, easy to get to, educational
Not enough for an all day visit, Rather muddy when wet, can get busy
Gorgie City Farm is based in Gorgie Road on the West of Edinburgh. It is roughly about 5 minutes away by bus from the City Centre and is easy to get to with a wide Bus service being available.
Gorgie Farm opened in 1982 as a community project. It was built on a derelict refuge site on Gorgie Road. This was to help bring the community closer to animals and help them learn about animals in their own environment.
Gorgie Farm is very child friendly. There is an entrance opposite Tynecastle Garage which you can drive up. At the top there is roughly 5 parking spaces and 3 spaces which are for disabled driving. I often park on the side streets as my husbands business is just along the road and it is easier to park near his work and see granny (Mother in law works for hubby) rather than get to the farm and find it busy. Weekends can be especially busy. If you decide to walk up this area, then be careful as some people don't care about the recommended low speed and drive like maniacs.
There is also an entrance just under the railway bridge. Jemima's Pantry is there too, and that is the farms Cafe. I often ate in the Cafe when I was at school as the Farm is just up the Road from Tynecastle High School. Going in either entrance means going on to cobbles.
The hill up from Jemima's Pantry is quite steep but there is a small path which leads into the playpark and then you can go up the steps there to the main part of the Farm. The Park has picnic benches and is ideal for Nursery outings for having snack and then playing in the playpark. The park toys consist of a wooden seesaw, a bouncy rabbit seat and also a slide with a cubby house, wooden drawbridge. It also has wooden steps at one side and a rope type bit at the other side. I constantly watch both children on the climbing area as they could fall and land on bark, but it is better to be safe than sorry. The last time we were here, the bridge was broken and we were unable to use it. There are also bins in the area with the picnic tables for getting rid off your rubbish and litter. The farm workers are busy enough without having to clear up your mess. The farm is suitable for wheelchairs but expect a bumpy ride but you can easily get into the barns although Pets Lodge may be a tight squeeze.
Once you go up the steps into the farm, you reach the offices and the stables for the animals who aren't always in their stables but out in the fields so that you can see them better and can stroke them too. There are 2 fields on either side of a small field. Quite often the goats and Sheep and ponies can be found in the fields here. The ponies are very happy to approach you and let you stroke them. At the top of these fields and the path, there are various runs and hutches. There tend to be rabbits and guinea pigs in them. You can't get too close up to the animals in here, but it is nice for introducing animals to children who may not bee too keen but are happy to watch on from afar. You then head into a little lodge where budgies, rats, fish, and guinea pigs are often kept in large cages. Often here you can come in here and buy animals which they have bred. They animals are available for very reasonable prices and if you phone the farm they will be able to give you more details.
When you come out of the lodge it is better to walk back as though you are heading back into the lodge. If you then walk past the entrance, and round the corner, this leads you up to the back fields and then herb gardens. We've never been in the herb gardens. But they have 2 funny scarecrows which our 4 year old loves. One has an old stereo for a head and the other one has a kettle. My friend and I had a little chuckle when we saw them as one used to have an old TV for a head and it was funny to see a white kettle being used. There are 2 open stables up here too. This is quite often where new lambs and their mothers are kept. The cow is also kept up here. The poor cow (can't remember her name right now) is often by herself There are warning signs at lambing time that pregnant women should stay away. Can't remember the reason why, but the rest of the farm is fine for them. As you come past the cow, you can either go into the shed or head on to the pigs.
The pigs are kept in sty's. The pink ones are just opposite the cow field. There are about 3/4 sty's with them. They often grunt when you go past and can be quite smelly. At the end opposite the row of sty's is a big sty with black pigs. Eilidh often comments that these are the pigs who have rolled in the mud. She won't accept that they are meant to be black.
In the shed which I mentioned before, there are a few steps leading down into it. There are 2 pens. One is often used as a pets corner. You can hold birthday parties at the farm and the children are brought here and different animals such a hen, rabbits and guinea pigs are brought out to allow the children to hold or pet them. In the next pen is other animals which are usually sheep who are resting.
You can then walk through to the stables or go out to the different types of birds such as turkey, chickens, and ducks. They are in pens spread over 2 sides of the driving up area. At the end towards the park is an old Tractor. Children are welcome to play on it. It is popular and is the main scene of tantrums from children who want a shot or have had a shot but been removed by parents due to the large number of children waiting to get on.
As I have mentioned before the farm host Birthday parties. I have only ever been to parties on the weekend and I am not sure if they run in the week. But they are good value. With a minimum of 10 children, the children all meet in the park to start off with. The Birthday Child's parents usually take all the presents away and put them in the car. There is a special person who runs the parties. It usually starts off with looking at the animals in the fields and then in Pets Lodge. Then you head over to the shed and while the children get to meet the smaller animals, the ponies rides if requested start too. They have 2 ponies which they use depending on the age and sizes of the children. At one party the host parent mentioned that the pony had a bit of an attitude. It is something that I have remembered since and when I was helping at a friends daughters party, Eilidh mentioned that she had been on the pony before and when asked which one it was I said it was the one with the attitude, the staff laughed.
After everything the children are encouraged to wash their hands in the toilets which can be found next to the office, or just next to the playpark in the building where the caf is. Upstairs from the cafe is a huge party room with tables and benches and a typical birthday tea is provided (sandwiches, cakes, crisps and Jelly and Ice cream). You can pay an extra £1per head. for pizza and hot food instead. It costs about £6.50 per child for a party here and you also get a very good party bag with lots of things in them unlike other party places. You need to phone the farm and pre-book and party and then they send you out a form and you send it back in with all your details and I think a deposit. The parties last 90 minutes and in dry weather can be great fun.
We usually spend about 90 minutes maximum at the farm when we go to visit but it is not something which will take all day to visit. But if you have a free morning or afternoon it is a place which is nice to visit. When I worked in the nursery we often visited the farm to link in with our projects or if we had a small number of children we would just decide to go one day. The farm is free but donations can be left. The nursery used to leave £20 per visit and we often get daddy to drop some money in too. The farm relies on these donations and is a charity status to keep the farm running. There is also a volunteer programme where young people can go to the farm and learn about the animals and help out with feeding and taking care of them in the evenings or at weekends. Not all the animals which belong to Gorgie Farm live there. I believe the Farm has a small farm out at West Lothian where lambs can be born and the animals can be changed over incase they are ill etc.
The children love visiting the farm and it is an idea free day out if we are at the time of the month that we are a bit skint. They get an educational visit and can have fun too, so well worth it. Don't expect it to be a rest, but buggies are fine for the farm. Our Mclaren Buggy manages fine on the uneven surfaces but my friend finds it easier to use her 3 wheeler or her sling. I find it easier to allow Murray to walk so that I don't keep having to take him out of the buggy when we go inside Pets Lodge and the sheds. It is very child friendly and there is always a friendly face about to welcome you. My only sadness is that the farm had a well known duck who was named Jemima Puddleduck. She died and personally as she was always there just wandering about in my childhood, I sorta miss seeing her around as she was a big part of the farm. But I still enjoy visiting.
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