Cassiobury Farm Open Day (01/08/16)

We’d seen the deer from the tube window: look left as you’re sliding into Watford Met and you’ll just be able to make them out (as well as goats and ponies) through the trees. We’d always wondered what the site was, until we chanced upon the sign below earlier in the summer.

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The entrance to Cassiobury Farm.

Cassiobury Farm and Fishery is a former watercress farm that’s been there in one guise or another since the 1820s. The watergrass beds are still there, but so is a rare breeds farm, a host of exotic wildlife, a carp lake and kitchen garden. It’s one of Watford’s best-kept secrets, and we took up the invitation on the sign to visit on one of its open days.

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Looking across the watercress beds.

The site is huge – much larger than it appears from the railway and separated into lots of different areas to explore. It’s entered from the woods at the bottom of the park, near the river. There were signs placed around the nearby roads but it was still a bit tricky to find on our second visit, and some other families were looking a bit lost.

Once we did arrive, first stop for us were the amazing tortoises roaming in a small orchard near the entrance – great to see the animals having so much space, and our little one loved feeding them with the lettuce provided.

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The kitchen garden behind the tortoise orchard.

Further up into the site were ponds with lots of ducks and geese. We had an eye out for our favourite Mandarins, but didn’t see one!

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Next up were the extremely popular meerkats. And look – they’d just had babies!

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By this time we were in need of refreshment. The farm had set up stalls at the end of a central meadow where you could buy tea, coffee and cakes, as well as produce produced by the farm itself. There were lots of deckchairs, including a giant one that kids were playing on (see below).

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The refreshment area (taken before it got busy!)

We then meandered round the paths running between the pens – below are some pics of some of the animals we saw, but there were numerous other exotic breeds (monkey etc) that we didn’t have time to snap.

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Giant rabbit (relaxing!)
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Goats in front of a ‘ruin’.
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Here’s looking at you (kid).

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Llamas and alpaca.

Towards the rear of the site there were more pools to explore, including this one that had a small monkey house on the island:

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Our morning was drawing to a close and it was clear we weren’t going to be able to see everything in one visit. Back towards the entrance were some pelicans and flamingos – new additions to the farm:

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Near the entrance was a bouncy castle and sun loungers by the carp lake. There’s a walk all around the lake, but sadly we ran out of time – next time hopefully!

We spent a morning there and could have easily spent the whole day at the farm. It cost £7 per adult to visit (free for infants), which was fantastic value for such a fascinating, interactive experience.

There were five open days that ran over August: after talking to one of the many helpful volunteers we discovered that apparently the farm only has a limited licence to open. We hope there’s another opportunity to visit again soon as if open more regularly it would surely attract a large and loyal number of visitors from Watford and beyond.

www.cassioburyfarm.co.uk

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