When I heard that Bill Quay Cafe was re-opening on 9th September 2020, I was excited to be able to visit again after the farm building and cafe being closed for almost a year. Although the outside areas remained open, many of the animals were initially moved offsite. The good news is that many have now returned, and there are plans to also reopen the indoor area in the fullness of time.
As a registered charity there was an ongoing struggle to secure enough funding for Bill Quay Farm. Since changing hands the new owners have been working hard behind the scenes. Chrysalis Training are a specialist employment training provider for vulnerable young people with Autism and/or Learning Disabilities. They provide opportunities and internships for young people at sites across the North East. With the addition of Bill Quay Farm, young people can now also gain experience in small animal handling and farming.
I have very fond memories of visiting the farm with my boys over the last few years (and a vivid memory of my second born having one of those ‘exploding nappy’ moments there!🙈), so I thought we’d go back for a quick visit. The time just flew over, and once we’d seen the animals and stopped for lunch we ended up spending a good two hours there.
The farm is free to visit (donations are welcome), and the outside area is compact enough for little legs to cover without getting tired. There are a few interesting wooden and metal sculptures and pictures dotted around that the kids enjoyed spotting. We spotted chickens, roosters, geese, pigs, and the highlight for us was the goats. Bill Quay Farm was originally established as an organic rare breeds farm, including Bagot goats with fantastic horns. My kids are big fans of the show Blaze and the Monster Machines, so were fascinated to see real ‘big horns!’ along with some absolutely adorable kid goats.
The indoor area including the small animals room is not yet open to the public, in the meantime the furry friends are being looked after by Chrysalis Training and their students, including chinchillas, guinea pigs, rabbits and rats.
**EDIT – the indoor area re-opened 1st Aug 2021, with a packed timetable running 10.30am-3pm Mon-Fri throughout the summer holiday, including face painting, chicken/alpaca feeding, and meet the smalls/piglets.
Our next stop was Bill Quay Cafe. The cafe has seating indoors and outdoors with lovely river views, and great service from friendly staff. There’s an opening menu on offer of breakfast, lunch and treats, with a full menu of more cooked food options and scones coming soon. We treated ourselves to some delicious Terry’s chocolate orange and jammy dodger cupcakes. There’s a small field alongside the outdooor seating, so I even managed to get a minute of quiet to enjoy a good strong coffee while the kids had a run (burning off the sugar rush!) then explored the treehouse den.
It was a lovely afternoon, and I’m looking forward to seeing the next stage of exciting developments for the farm and cafe.
📌 Bill Quay Farm, Hainingwood Terrace, Bill Quay, Gateshead, NE10 0UE 🍰Bill Quay Cafe open Wed-Sun, 10am-4pm. 🐷Bill Quay Community Farm open from 10am 1st Aug 2021. Timetable of activities running Mon-Fri throughout Aug. Last admission for inside area is 3.30pm. 👉No booking needed, free entry (donations welcome). Animal food & free range eggs for sale.
There’s plenty on Gateshead Mumbler to help keep little ones (and big ones!) busy, check here for more ideas and info for fun days out from tots to teens!