We are always looking for new ideas for family days out in Yorkshire. Thorp Perrow was recommended by a friend and we were definitely not disappointed. There are plenty of other great places to go in North Yorkshire with the kids (Brimham Rocks has been one of my favourites since childhood) but we loved Thorp Perrow Arboretum. Here is the Mini Travel Tribe guide to Thorp Perrow with children.
Where is Thorp Perrow And why visit?
Thorp Perrow is an Arboretum in North Yorkshire. It’s close to Bedale on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales but only about 10 minutes drives from the Al. It’s a big site (100 acres) with a wide selection of trees and shrubs. Now I’m no gardener or tree expert but the variety of colour and styles of trees are really beautiful.
Things to do at Thorp Perrow with children
Trees aside there is plenty more to entertain families including a great playground and the birds of prey and mammal centre. There is also plenty of space for kids to do what they do best- just run around and explore!
We were there just before Easter so there was an Easter egg trail. We bought maps for £1 each on entry (which included a chocolate). It was a lovely trail which all 3 children really enjoyed. Just about the right length to maintain interest and not too far in between clues for little toddler legs!
Thorp Perrow has different trails throughout the year so look out for information when you arrive.
Birds of Prey and Mammal Centre
This area was probably the highlight for our family on our visit. There is a large selection of birds, which looked really well kept, and twice a day there is a flying display. We just made it in time to catch one of these and loved it. They flew 3 different birds in the display. The handler did make it clear to keep young children close to you and we realised why when a huge owl landed just above the toddler’s head! He was a bit unsure at first but was fascinated. The highlight for me was watching the falcon. He got so high we could barely see him and then did amazing dives to get a lure being swung around by his handler- he was too fast for me to photograph!
Following the birds of prey we nipped next door to the ‘mammal centre’. There isn’t a huge selection of animals- some meerkats, goats and wallabies. My friend that had been a couple of weeks earlier had raved about the wallaby walk. When she was there the wallabies were really tame and went right up to them. I think it was a bit hot for the wallabies when we were there as they were all just laid in the shade not moving, which was a bit of a shame. Nevertheless is is nice to feel like you are amongst them without any barriers. There are set paths to stick to meaning that the wallabies can escape human attention by moving away from the path if they so choose.
With children it is almost impossible to avoid a playground visit if there is one around! The playground at Thorp Perrow isn’t huge but it wasn’t busy and there is plenty for toddlers as well as older children. I loved that it was all wooden, natural materials that seemed to fit so well with the environment. It’s also not far from the cafe so if you need a caffeine boost you can grab a coffee and then relax and watch the kids play.
We arrived around lunch time so had our picnic in a lovely picnic area, just inside the main entrance. There are plenty of picnic benches there, including some very cute kiddie-sized ones. Just next to the entrance there is also a cafe if you haven’t brought your own food or just fancy buying a coffee or some tasty treats!
There was a tea van just outside the birds of prey/ mammal centre and more picnic benches. We had a cup of tea there while the children ate their chocolate rewards from the egg hunt. They had as much fun playing on the grass and in the trees here as they did in the playground I think.
Maps are available to guide you around the Arboretum. I felt the whole place was quite magical, lovely paths through the trees, with plenty of spring blossom and flowers around. Like most outdoor sites I’m sure the whole place will change each season so I am excited to get back there at a different time of year and experience Thorp Perrow in a different way.
We consulted the map but mostly enjoyed following our nose (or Martha’s stick) to explore wherever we were drawn to.
Mini Travel Tribe Top tips:
- You can buy tickets in advance online but there was hardly a queue when we got there on a sunny bank holiday weekend. We just bought tickets on arrival.
- When we were there it was pretty much the end of the Daffodils but they were everywhere and I can imagine it would have looked stunning a couple of weeks earlier- if you’re thinking of going in spring, maybe try and time it to get them in full bloom.
- When you arrive check the timings of the flying displays- this was one of our favourite parts of the visit so you don’t want to miss it! You can also check the timings on the Thorp Perrow website before you leave home.
- The tea van next to the birds of prey centre is cash only.
- There are toilets by the entrance and also by the birds of prey centre. There are baby change facilities at each of these places too.
- The paths were fine with a pushchair when we were there. Lots of the paths were on grass so it might depend a little bit on the conditions.
- The Thorp Perrow website has all the information that you need about ticket prices, opening times and special events that they have on throughout the year.