The Bucks Goat Centre, Aylesbury
This friendly little petting zoo just outside Stoke Mandeville has bags of heart. Owned by the same family for over 30 years now, there’s nothing buffed or shiny about it, but it’s a total community favourite – as evidenced by the publicly-funded brand new enclosure for resident silver fox, Barnaby, which is due to open soon. Barnaby’s in good company, with animals including three not-no-little pigs, ferrets, rabbits and guinea pigs, llamas, and of course, goats -a whopping 36 of them, in fact. Keep an eye out for Snow, who played Michelle Pfeiffer’s goat double (seriously) in Maleficent 2, and Apollo and Remi, who appeared in the latest Black Widow film from Marvel. There are perks to being so close to Pinewood!
During the summer, the Bucks Goat Centre is open seven days a week, offering Mini Farmers camps, feeding experiences, craft sessions and more. There’s also a small play and picnic area, a peaceful butterfly garden and a cafe with indoor and outdoor seating serving up the essential cake and coffee.
Little children love steam trains (just ask Thomas) and this 7-mile round trip through the Chilterns countryside from Chinnor in Oxfordshire over the border to Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire is a lovely way to spend a gentle hour or so. The Railway often puts on special trips – there are afternoon tea and sparkling teas days coming up in July and August, and from 23 July and other selected days it’s Kids for a Quid specials. Dogs are welcome too, and you might entice your grandparents along by dropping the M bomb – yes, my friends, the train is often used as a filming location for Midsomer Murders!
Kew Little Pigs, Amersham
Babe’s got nothing on these adorable micro pigs – find them at Kew Little Pigs, a small family-run farm and breeder just five minutes from Amersham station. There are some great bookable experiences on offer from petting and brushing sessions to being a pig farmer for a day, and during the school holidays there are full day camps for 7 to 16-year-olds (that’ll wear them out, surely?). Want to dip your toes without booking a full day? There’s a Family Fun Open Day coming up on 21 Aug.
BackWoods Experiences, Stokenchurch
If you go down in the woods at Stott’s Nursery, you’re sure of a big surprise – namely, hidden gem BackWoods and their awesome outdoor experiences. Ideal for learning new skills over the summer, workshops include everything from campfire cooking and flower crown making to axe throwing, and you can book private groups from £25pp. Keep an eye on their timetable too, as they often run family workshops during school holidays.
The Family Goring Riverside Return, Goring-on-Thames
Grab your binoculars and head out for a spot of birdwatching with GG Wildlife Experiences, a company borne out of lockdown itchy feet and a love of the various critters to be found in the Chilterns. This family-friendly 1.6-miler is designed to be suitable for U16s (if you’ve got teens, stretch their legs a little more with one of the longer walks Steve offers in Bucks and Oxon), and is perfect for spotting everything from kingfishers to raptors (not the Jurassic Park kind), as well as butterflies, dragonflies and even the occasional deer or fox. You’ll be given a list to tick off, as well as the all-important duck food.
Feeling inspired? There’s plenty more ’round these parts – check out Visit Chilterns for more experiences.