PONDEROSA ZOO: A family-friendly attraction in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire – Review

PONDEROSA ZOO: A family-friendly attraction in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire – Review

Ponderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike is a hidden gem housing over 120 animals from Lemurs to reindeers and reptiles. 

We went on our first trip to the West Yorkshire based Zoo, formerly known as Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre, during the school holidays to experience a family day out. 

Visiting Ponderosa Zoo 

The zoo is located off Smithies Lane Liversedge, Heckmondwike WF16 0PN. I hadn’t realised it was there until recently as it is tucked away. 

 

We parked up before checking in at the wooden hut-come-gift shop. We were greeted and showed the treasure trail which was there for Halloween. As it was Halloween when we went you could also pay £3 extra to get a pumpkin carved. The zoo is very reasonably priced compared to larger zoos we have been to. 

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I hadn’t realised how much there was to do from visiting animals to an indoor playbarn, outdoor play area, zip wire and talks on animals. There’s also spaces to eat a picnic or there is plenty of food and drink available to buy on site.

The zoo is compact with lots of paths making it easy to get around. There’s also a sand pit, so it’s a good idea to wear wellies especially when the weather is cold and drizzly like it was when we visited. 

My daughters aged 4 and 7 enjoyed exploring the zoo and filling out the treasure hunt. My Step brother Oscar, who is autistic, also enjoyed the zoo which is off the beaten path and felt a lot more tranquil than other attractions we have been to. 

We sought shelter in the large Lakeside Cafe which is also an events and wedding venue. It’s a cafeteria style eaterie with hot & cold food and drink available to buy. I had a nice tomato sop whilst the kids opted for jacket potatoes. 

We then ventured back outside for a last look around at some of the animals, before picking up our pumpkin which had been specially carved for us, suing our drawings. The kids had a few last goes on the zip wire before we returned to the car. 

I hadn’t realised there was a small indoor play barn as well, so next time we will definitely try that too. 

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We had a lovely half-day at the zoo with friendly and accommodating staff. My mum and I really appreciated the emphasis on education, nature and endangered species. 

It’s a down-to-earth Zoo which is affordable and perfect for the whole family. 

ALL ABOUT PONDEROSA ZOO

Ponderosa Zoo (originally Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre) was created in 1991 by Maureen Cook with the aim to ‘bridge the gap’ between disabled and able bodied people through the care of animals as a form of therapy. At the time the centre held a variety of domestic animals including pigs, goats and cattle.

Since its conception Ponderosa Zoo is now home to over 120 animals from lemurs to reindeer. They are a dedicated team of hard working and passionate individuals who aim to promote animal welfare, in addition to educating the public on conservation efforts and the threats many species now face in the wild. In 2017 we took another step in journey by becoming provisional BIAZA members.

Although they are now a much bigger facility with their primary focus being on welfare, education and conservation, they still hold a ‘Bridge the Gap’ vision by ensuring our zoo is always disabled friendly and offering a variety of grounds keeping roles for disabled individuals to gain valuable work experience in a friendly and welcoming environment.

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DISCLAIMER: We received a free family pass for the purpose of this review.

 

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GRIMM & CO: Apothecary to the magical… in Rotherham, South Yorkshire

GRIMM & CO: Apothecary to the magical… in Rotherham, South Yorkshire

Tucked away from a busy Rotherham high street is a place where magic, creative imaginings and fairytales come to life inside Grimm & Co. 

We were invited to Graham Grimm’s Apothecary on Doncaster Gate in Rotherham’s town centre – nestled between the shops and Clifton Park and, just a 10 minute walk from the train station. 

My kids, step-brother (who’s autistic) and I weren’t sure what to expect from the family blogging event held inside the magical shop – cum – learning/event space. 

My eldest Jasmine nervously knocked at the door and rang the bell.

As the door creaked open we were greeted by one of Graham Grimm’s team who welcomed us inside the enchanted venue. Immediately it felt as if we had been transported from a bustling town centre and into a magical storybook. 

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The team led us mortals around the shop showcasing all the magical things before helping us to discover a secret door. 

Once through the door, we well and truly had arrived into today’s magical adventure. The team were all so friendly and fully remained in character as they showed us up the storybook staircase and into the room which was at the top of Jack’s Beanstalk. 

The workshop area was lush with greenery, extracts from stories and other magical instruments. 

This is where Grimm & Co, who are a charity, host workshops for groups of young people and schools. And if there was ever a place that could inspire a love of literature, creative writing and inspire a child’s imagination, it is here. 

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Not only that the team were also well equipped to engage with my brother who has special needs too. And for me as someone who is dyslexic, I loved how such a welcome environment made reading, drawing and writing so accessible. 

As a family we went around the different craft tables, writing letters, creating fairy doors, drawing and finishing story books with our own imagination and writing. 

It was great to see staff who are so well versed in children and their needs and this kept the magic flowing. After some drinks and snacks, it was time to go back downstairs to the little library where the kids could pick a book. But it wasn’t a case of going back down the staircase, this time my daughters could slide down the beanstalk to return to where we had started.

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The kids and I enjoyed rummaging through the many books in the little library /reading area. It was great to see how enthused they had become over picking a book (I’ll admit I had been having to force them to have a bedtime story of late). 

I then got distracted by all the weird and wonderful concoctions on offer in the shop and I couldn’t help but buy several gifts, also it was great to know that the money goes to support such a fabulous charity. 

In the end I had to prize my daughters away from the library and shop as we had to get to the train station to catch the new tram between Rotherham and Sheffield. 

Once, we had left Grimm & Co it was a surprise back to reality and into the town centre. 

We would definitely visit again when they run workshops during the school holidays. We may even tie it in with a trip to Clifton Park as that is so close and such a fun place if the weather is nice. 

We travelled from Wakefield, West Yorkshire to Rotherham by train. Then we returned to see my family so caught the new tram between Rotherham and Sheffield, South Yorkshire which made the trip super easy and affordable.