Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens, near Burford
Don’t be surprised if you hear the roar of a lion if you’re passing through Burford. Don’t panic, though - this idyllic Cotswold village is the unlikely home of arguably one of the best wildlife parks in the UK. Set in over 160 acres of gorgeous parkland and home to over 130 bird species as well as mammals, primates, reptiles and amphibians, you’ll need a good few hours to explore this wonderful spot.
Established in 1970, Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens is home to one of the UK’s largest zoological collections. Kiddies will love a visit here as much of it is interactive – you can get involved with the penguins at feeding times, get up close and personal with meerkats, and walk through rainforest with bird pecking at your feet, ginormous fruit bats hang from branches and sloths creeping along the ceiling. Perhaps the most exhilarating exhibit is the Madagascar section – walk through it and you’ll have lemurs following you about, jumping from branch to branch.
The park is massive so the animals are well spread out. Grab a map when you arrive and spend a couple of minutes deciding where you want to go – it will save on tired legs later! Paths are wide and easily accessible for those with prams and buggies, but there’s also a miniature train if you want a helping hand to get about.
There’s a great restaurant on site, but beware it gets very, very busy in summer. There’s plenty of grassy space for picnicking so you can always bring goodies along with you – it’s easy to pop back to the car and pick it up if need be.
Having lived close by for seventeen years I have been here a fair few times and never tired of it. There’s something for everyone, but if I had to choose my favourites it would be the wolf enclosure, reptiles and amphibians, the Madagascar Walkthrough and the monkeys (who doesn’t love a monkey?).
Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Cotswolds here.