Living in a city is it not always possible to see animals that are commonplace in the country. How often have you seen a sheep shopping in the centre of town? Sadly this means that a lot of city children are not familiar with farm animals. Living in Newcastle Upon Tyne we do get the chance to see cows on the town moor. The Freemen of Newcastle have had the right to graze cows there since the times of the Norman conquest and when driving past you can often see them grazing happily. There is also a small animal corner in Jesmond Dene which is well worth a visit and Jesmond Dene itself is a lovely place to wander around. In the centre of Byker underneath a number of bridges we also have a farm in the heart of the city. Even though I have lived in Newcastle for many years I had never visited Ouseburn Farm before. Over the Summer we managed to pay two visits, first when we went to the Battle of the Burgers at The Tyne Bar and secondly when we went to Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books.
Ouseburn Farm is situated near the river Ouseburn, one of the tributaries that runs down to the Tyne. The area played a large part in the industrial revolution and there are remnants of this still here today such as the walls of a lead factory. The area has undergone regeneration in recent years and is a vibrant place to visit. There are several bars where you can sit and have a drink where you can often find live music being played. There is also a stables as well as Ouseburn Farm and Seven Stories. There is pay and display parking available. The farm itself is right next to the banks of the Ouseburn and under the shadow of a bridge. The river was full of ducks enjoying the sunshine.
When you first enter the farm you are greeted by a scarecrow. This is set in the gardens which we strolled around. The gardens are well tended and used for growing vegetables and fruit which you can find for sale in the farm shop. There are a some surprises like a couple of giraffes standing to one side of the path. At the back of the garden there are outside enclosures for the animals but they were inside when we visited. The far end of the farm overlooks the river and the path beside it. There is a reminder of how important vegetable gardens were during the war years as we are told to “Dig for victory”. I always mean to plant more vegetables in my garden, but have an ongoing battle with slugs and snails.
Being a farm you would expect to find animals and when we visited there were quite a few. In the outside enclosures we found a pair of pigs which we watched for a while. They were quite amusing as they kept walking into each other. A black cat watched them, peeking out from a straw manager above. The second time we visited we also found some sheep, there are fields outside the farm which we did not investigate. A range of smaller animals were also outside, several rabbits and guinea pigs, ducks and hens. The hens and ducks were fenced off but one hen had made a bid for freedom. I nearly accidentally stepped on it, luckily my son warned me and averted tragedy.
The first time we visited there was no cafe, but the second time we went the cafe had just reopened. We were enticed in by one of the staff offering us homemade biscuits and telling us it was open. We went in to investigate. The cafe sells homemade cakes, sandwiches and soup. It is situated upstairs and there is plenty of room to sit and relax for a while. You can choose to sit and overlook the farm if you wish. We enjoyed a smoothie, made with raspberries grown on the farm and a slice of lemon drizzle cake. The atmosphere was welcoming and homely.
If you are looking for somewhere free to visit with kids Ouseburn farm is well worth popping into. Whilst it is not large you can easily spend a little while here enjoying looking at the animals. The cafe is lovely as well and a nice place to stop for a break. There is plenty to do along the Ouseburn so you could easily combine your visit to the farm with a trip to Seven Stories or just pop along and visit the Quayside which is within walking distance. It is a lovely community space and great to have a farm in the centre of the city.