Umberslade Farm Park may currently be closed to visitors due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but thanks to permission from the Umberslade Estate and some clever signage, there is now a 5km (or three mile) Umberslade Estate Walk that you can book tickets for, and let me tell you, it makes for a lovely day out – remember when we had those? Days out. The ticket system ensures good social distancing practices as visitor numbers are staggered throughout the day with a maximum number of walkers allowed. We booked a morning slot on Sunday 7th June as part of our birthday celebrations for Pickle and had such a lovely time. I wanted to write a little more about our day here for other local families considering the walk.
Where is it?
The Umberslade Estate walk starts and finishes at Umberslade Farm Park, near Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire and is easily accessible from Redditch, Solihull and the M40 and M42. When you arrive, park in the normal car park that you would visit for a day at the farm. Rather than head up the path to the gift shop which is the usual entrance, follow the signs at the bottom of the car park.
How long is it?
The Umberslade Estate Walk is 5km long, or around 3 miles if (like me) you prefer imperial distance measurements. Umberslade have advised that they expect it to take around 1.5hours to 2 hours to walk, and I’d say this was about right for us. There is a shortcut available about half way around once you reach the gates of the Umberslade Hall, if you wanted to cut the walk short or little legs are getting tired. We spotted the family behind us took this route back.
Is it suitable for children?
Umberslade Farm Park are recommending the walk for children aged 5 or over. I didn’t quite spot that before I booked our tickets and then was a little worried on the day of our walk that Pickle, a newly turned four year old, would be turned away or find it difficult, but it was absolutely fine. He’s a really good walker and managed the whole route (except for about 300m where I gave him a piggyback!). The route is definitely not suitable for pushchairs although obviously babywearing is an option for younger children.
I’d say that each parent is best placed to judge whether their own child will handle the walk. We do a lot of walking with Pickle, and since he took his first steps, he’s always preferred to walk himself rather than go in a pushchair. There aren’t really places along the route to stop and have a rest (especially given the need for social distancing) but there is obviously the short cut option if you reach half way and think you may be pushing your child’s limits. It did completely tire him out afterwards and he fell asleep in the car as soon as we started driving home.
Are dogs allowed?
Dogs on a lead are permitted. There are sections of the walk that go through fields with livestock so it is important to keep dogs on a lead throughout.
When you arrive at the check in desk, you will be given a map of the Estate Walk, however you won’t really need it to follow the route. The walk is well signposted with yellow poles stuck in the ground and white arrows. We never had any moments of confusion about the route needed. We often checked against the map to see if we could figure out where we were and how far along the route we’d gone. If the closure of the farm park is extended and the Estate Walk is offered for a longer period of time, it might be a good idea to add some signage for the potential shortcut back home or a ‘half way point’ sign but once you spot Umberslade Hall (pictured above), the shortcut route home is fairly obvious.
Pickle loved spotting the yellow poles and white arrows – and we even used it as a great opportunity to teach him his left and right. He mainly used the walk as a fartlek training session and kept running from post to post. It was very sweet.
From our experience, there were really no issues with being able to social distance. We arrived a little late for our timeslot (to be expected if you know what my timekeeping is like, and especially as we had to navigate a road closure diversion and Sunday morning cyclists). We could see a family walking about 400m ahead of us, and a group in the distance behind us. Obviously, different groups moved at different paces and a group of adults did catch up with us near the end although they held back for a little bit whilst we carried on. We booked tickets for the same time slot as my parents who joined us on the walk (now that six people from different households are allowed to be outside together if adhering to social distancing rules). The route is all one way.
Will we see animals?
Most of the walk borders crop fields around the Umberslade Estate. During the walk itself, we passed through a couple of sheep fields and the end of the walk brings you back to Umberslade Farm Park itself. We spent a bit of time looking at the hens, saw some goats, walked past the duck pond and had a look at the couple of pigs that were in the sties. The walk isn’t a substitute for a day at a farm, but it was a lovely end to the walk to see a few animals and that does make this walk a little bit more special.
What facilities are available?
There are toilets and babychange facilities available at Umberslade Farm Park (accessible at the beginning and end of the walk). The Espresso Farm cafe was open, serving hot drinks and some food items. The cafe is operating a one way system to ensure social distancing, and they’re asking just one person per group to go into the cafe to purchase anything. There are several benches available to sit at if you want to rest your legs.
How much is it? And do we need to book?
Tickets are priced at £5 (+ £0.50 booking fee) per adult, and £3 (+ £0.50 booking fee) for children over 5. 10% of the ticket price is a donation to the charity MIND (which won the vote when Umberslade Farm Park asked it’s fans on Facebook where they wanted the donation to go to). We didn’t book a ticket for Pickle, but I’m not 100% sure if this was the right thing to have done – and caused me a bit of worry before we arrived. Booking in advanced is required to help control numbers. Tickets can be purchased here and you will need to choose your timeslot.
Would we recommend it?
100% yes. Granted, there are some lovely walks in our area that are free and don’t require pre-booking or paying a ticket price but psychologically, booking tickets and arriving at a set time really does make it feel like a proper day out. In addition, I think it’s especially important to support our local businesses where we can. It was relaxing to go somewhere new, but not have to worry about navigation and just enjoy the walk, taking in the scenery. Ending the walk at the Farm and enjoying a hot drink felt like a real treat.
Funnily enough, we celebrated Pickle’s first birthday by visiting Umberslade Farm Park, and there was something really nostalgic about spending his fourth birthday there as well under very different circumstances.
I probably wouldn’t do the Umberslade Estate Walk again myself (although, I would be tempted to experience it again with sunnier weather) but I’d happily recommend it to other local families. If you have any questions about our experience that I haven’t already covered, feel free to ask anything in the comments below or come over and say hello on Instagram.