Sunday, 5 August 2012

Review of Gypsy Wood Park - Caernarfon

Last week we were lucky enough to be invited as a family for a day out to Gypsy Wood in Caernarfon, North Wales.

But what is Gypsy Wood?

Gypsy Wood is an enchanting little park, hidden nearby the Royal town of Caernarfon in North Wales and situated in the foothills of the famous Snowdonia. A fun-filled family day out in a magical place where elfs and fairies hide and play!

It began life in 2004 as a home for a small horse called Simba who had been born with deformed forelegs in 1997 and slowly grew from there and is growing every year for the enjoyment of all who visit.

One of the first attractions you see as you enter the park, is one of the biggest train sets I have ever seen! The Gypsy Wood Railway was designed and built during 2004, although it has been extended since. The scale is approximately 1:22.5 running on 45mm gauge track to represent mostly European metre gauge prototypes, a combination known as "G scale". All of the track and most of the rolling stock is manufactured by the German company LGB/Bachmann although there are some British items built by the staff. The total track layout is about 580 meters, arranged in eight circuts on the main layout, plus there are three "self drive" layouts where children can take control of a train for themselves. The locomotives cover some impressive milage in the course of a season, for example the train on the main outside circuit covers in the region of 13km (7.8 miles) in a days operation, which adds up to 91km (54 miles in a week). The layout is controlled by a bank of conventional model railway controllers, with no computers, which makes problem solving simpler, but does involve an awful lot of wire!
***The above information is taken from the Gypsy Wood website as I'm not that knowledgable about train, I just know it looked impressive!***

There was also a large train that children could ride on which ran once every hour on the hour in a circular route. Every child was given one ticket on admission for one ride, but more tickets could be bought for additional rides.

There was a lovely little cafe with toys for children to play with whilst the parents enjoy a well deserved cuppa and a lovely little gift shop with lots of reasonably priced gifts. We bought each of the girls a pencil with a fairy topper for £1.50 as a reminder of their day!

As it was around lunchtime when we arrived, and being prepared with hungry children, our first stop was the Simba playarea. When the children saw the play fort with slides, towers, climbing areas. This is in the picnic area where you can stop and sit whilst the children play in the fort and for younger children there was a small play area full of bikes, trikes and ride-ons so they didn't feel left out! In fact all the children had so much fun playing it was hard to get them to eat their lunch and to walk around!

Gypsy Wood is also home to Simba and all his friends. They have miniature donkeys, Ouessant sheep (which are the smalles breed of sheep in the world), pygmy goats, alpacas, pot belled pigs, miniature shetlands, various ducks (including the biggest one we'd ever seen!), birds and fowl and also some small petting animals such as rabbits, mice, guinea pigs and ferrets. At mid-day each day there is also a chance to get involved with their keepers in various activities which vary according to the animal and what needs the animal requires. This could be anything from feeding, grooming, oiling pigs, alpaca walking or feet trimming. Although we missed the keeper encounter as the children were too busy having fun on the fort, we did see the animals and they were all very friendly, especially the goats who loved having some fuss and attention!

There's plenty to see and do in Gypsy Wood including a wetland walk. The Wetland walk is just under a 1/2 mile long, but they recommend you wear wellies because being a wetland this means there is water near or above ground. We only walked a short distance as we weren't wearing wellies and found a large puddle in the path! What we did see of the path we could see it would be perfect for spotting all sorts of insects, birds, dragon flies, butterflies and flowers.

When we arrived at Gypsy Wood, we were giving an activity sheet with some questions for the girls to answer whilst we walk around for my 7yr old and a bingo sheet for my 5yr old to tick everytime she saw the animal in the picture. There was also another sheet showing what birds we might see on the woodland walk to help them identify the birds. They were also told to find the 6 fairies hidden on forest walk and the magic wand and wooden sword as we walked around.

All in all the children really enjoyed their day in Gypsy Wood, playing wooden instruments in the wooden tree house, seeing all the animals, finding the fairies and leprechauns, milking a pretend cow, playing on the fort, being in charge of some trains, riding another train and playing with all the toys dotted around Gypsy Wood. I could also tell, judging from all the Welsh I heard from other visitors to the park, that it was popular with locals as well, which is always a good sign wherever you visit!

Gypsy Wood has season tickets which are ideal for those who live nearby and for everyone else the tickets are as follows;
Children - £5.49
Toddlers - £3.75
Adults - £6.99
Pensioner/Special Needs - £5.99
Family - £21.50 (2 adults, 2 children)
It is located just off the A487 on the outskirts of Caernarfon heading towards Pwllheli.

All in all a fun family day whatever the weather!

Find Gypsy Wood Online, on Facebook, on Twitter and on Blogger

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