A Day Out and Saturday Lunch at Drovers Rest.
We received a bucket load of messages on Instagram asking for a blog post on our visit to Drovers Rest. As this is a family blog the focus will be our experience of visiting a place with children and with the disclaimer that it’s our opinion. We all have different likes, expectations, and needs for visiting somewhere. I will include as much practical information as I can but if there are specific things you need to know we always advise you to contact a venue/attraction before you visit. My children are 5 and 12 (the eldest has SEN) so this shapes our feedback too, I will try and comment helpfully as a mother but because they are older, I didn’t say, check out baby change facilities etc.
Note: we visited in April. The ground was muddy, but the weather was sunny, so our experience was based on being able to enjoy glorious views, not be damp, have a long walk, and eat outside. I would always advise taking a change of clothes (whatever the season) and the kids needed their waterproofs and wellies. Whilst there is a space for eating inside this is primarily an out of doors venue so take that into account if the weather is bad. That is not me dissuading you to visit in Winter as off-season you can enjoy less people and we still need to entertain little ones when it rains! Which let’s face it, is 75% of the year in the Shire.
There is so much that the site offers that I can’t comment on too much that I think deserves mentioning – we will add as we visit again!
What is on offer at Drovers Rest?
The 16th Century Drovers rest aim is to gather people – around their varied farm activities, their abundant dinner table, their welcoming campfires and walking the old Drovers paths. Not only does the farmstead offer accommodation for staying guests – for locals or those holidaying in the area there are activities for families and unique dining experiences based on fresh seasonal ingredients grown organically or foraged on the farm – alongside locally sourced produce.
PLAY – Visitors can learn from educational farm tours, animal encounters, smallholder and rural craft workshops. There is plenty of space for climbing trees, den building, and nature hunting, as well as a wild rustic play area all made with natural materials from the farm.
STAY – Drovers has pet-friendly accommodation – they offer award-winning farm stays in 3 luxury cottages perfect for family holidays or glamping in one of seven large canvas safari tents in the wildflower meadow. In the summer season, you can also stay in a Bell tent for an outdoor-adventure vibe. We went for a day visit not a stay so head over to the website to get all the info on the amenities, prices etc.
EAT – Thursday to Mon during school holidays and every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year the kitchen offers South African Brunches 10.00-12.00, Street food Lunches 12.30-15.00 and Early Dinners 17.00-19.00. Check out which nights offer Braai food, pizza, Fish and Chips. There is cake, Scones and Coffee too. To book the farm café is free and for the 3 course Sunday lunches you prepay. Dishes are made with homegrown, seasonal produce cooked on open fires, just as the Drovers did many moons ago.
Opening Times & Booking.
The farm is open all year round, but different activities are on offer at different times. The useful booking calendar on the website shows what is available daily. Whatever the season the Wild Farm activities such as Campfires, Educational Guided Animal Safaris with feeding (held at 10.00am or 3.00pm), or The DIY Farm Trail (not timed) are held. Pony Rides are available Sundays. The farm is closed for Day Visits Tuesdays/Wednesdays. Also, there are additional activities on offer during School Holidays.
Wild Feasts are held on one or two Saturdays a month. This is to give you an idea, contact the venue directly for questions and bookings for stays, birthday parties, Forest School, weddings etc.
ALL farm and food experiences and need to be pre-booked on the website which is simple to do.
Location & Getting There.
Drovers Rest is located at Llanerch Y Coed Farm, Hay on wye, HR3 6AG. Locals will know this is off the beaten track a bit, but we are used to having to drive everywhere and that those roads can get a bit meandering. The website does advise to use Google Maps as Satnav’s can take you to the neighbouring farm. We had no problems with this as followed the brown tourist signs that are clearly signposted Drovers Rest. The techy ones can use What Three Words – flown.widely.yield. DR is down a single wooded, no through lane. If you get little ones that get car sick crack a window. If you are wanting a rural experience, you have to travel.
I will say the farm is a beautifully maintained site and the surrounding area just showcases some of the county’s best views. If you have SEN children or just like to be familiar with a place before a visit Drovers has a sweetly illustrated map of the farm that shows you the layout (check out on their Insta).
Parking at the site.
Is free. It is not a tarmacked car park (hello it’s a farm) but there was plenty of space. It is chipping and solid ground, so you don’t need your 4-wheel drive. I can’t say it wasn’t signposted as at the end of the single-lane track you arrive at the farm and there is a post-signing where everything is! I did very Britishly panic where you visited for the ‘day’ to not park in the spaces for the cottages, but it is all very relaxed.
Our day at the farm.
After arriving, we walked a short distance to the main large courtyard filled with a mosaic of picnic tables. This is where the kitchen is located, alongside the overnight visitor’s barn with sofa and ping pong tables; also, the licensed bar – housed in a contemporary shipping crate, the toilets & laundry block, farm shop and the beautiful 16th century vaulted threshing barn. We did book a table in the farm café so I did peep in the barn – which was light and airy with large wooden tables and benches (heated in Winter) but opted to eat outside. Facilities wise there are huge sinks for handwashing and very clean toilets. Plentiful soap, towels, and toilet paper!
It is family-run and working – staff may be busy wandering around the site but will soon come to meet you with a warm welcome. I love that it is not an over-commercialised venue. Honest and relaxed. It is an animal-friendly site, two beautiful dogs were wandering around and warmly greeted us – if animals are not your thing you won’t like it. But then going to a farm would be a bit of a silly move.
EDUCATIONAL GUIDED ANIMAL SAFARI.
The children got to experience a fab educational tour by Raymond starting with a cuddle with ducklings and then introductions to the Chickens/Guinea Fowl, Falabella horses in their paddock, goats and Ouessant lambs. This area is 5 minutes from the Courtyard – the animals have their sections, are well kept and obviously very content. On the educational tour, we were told about the history of our farm, learned about each of the animals, and asked a LOT of questions! We went into the sheep and alpaca pens and could interact with the animals – the children could be involved as much or as little as they wanted. The alpacas live on the upper hill where the views will just bowl you over. It is only a five-minute walk up the hill and over a stepped wooden bridge. I mention that as those with pushchairs/ wheelchairs may struggle with access, especially in wet weather. There were toddlers just running free range and babies in carriers. We had a bit of time before lunch so took an enjoyable meander around the farm to hunt for pigs and see the beautiful Herefordshire black sheep.
We were asked on socials about the number of animals. There is plenty to see but to set expectations it isn’t like say The Small Breeds where there are hundreds. The lure of Drovers is to combine spending hands-on time with the animals with a unique eating experience. For us having a tour at 10, exploring Drovers, then eating at 12 at our leisure followed by having a play outside – the perfect amount of time before our youngest got too overtired.
A TASTE OF DROVERS.
You order at the kitchen where food choices are usefully on the board or menus. Staff are happy to chat through suggestions. You can eat in the barn café or outside in the courtyard. It was a beautiful day, so our hosts asked if we wanted to eat outside on the rustic wooden round picnic-style tables which easily seated the six of us right in the centre of the site. I loved that you could see your meal being cooked. We always get asked about wait times for food, but I failed to time this as was too busy having a nice time in the sun and the owner kindly bought out some beads for the children to make bracelets. I will say everything is cooked fresh, so it takes longer than if you went to Spoons and had frozen food microwaved. I know what I would prefer! You order drinks at the bar (they have card facilities) where you can also help yourself to glasses of water. It is not an awkward table service sort of place but if you ask, they happily provide. Food is bought to the table in wooden crates on reusable plates and enamel tin bowls. In the sun, chatting to other guests there was such a festival vibe. We ordered a range to try and share – it arrived hot, with generous portions. They do children’s options. I highly recommend the Boerie rolls and dirty burgers with loaded fries and loved getting to try something different! We could have easily shared one order of nachos between two. The smokiness from the fire really gives a great foodie experience.
Note: Drovers don’t allow your own food and drink onsite so don’t turn up with a picnic.
Let’s talk price.
Someone will always have something to comment on price. We were kindly gifted the animal experiences which are free for staying guests or are £7 per person or £25 for a family (under 2s free). Given the time with Raymond, the animals, and feeding this seems reasonable to me compared to other local attractions etc. Food wise I paid around £70 for the six of us (my son had an adult’s meal) which given the quality/size and how yummy it was we were happy with and we will definitely go again. I think you rate a place by how you feel when leaving, we were happy, full with the smell of wood smoke in our hair and mud on our jeans.
Drovers Rest is obviously run with love, and we had a wonderful day.
#AD We were Gifted the Educational Animal Tour but were heading to Drovers to take friends to lunch so all opinions etc are our own.