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East Links Family park is half a mile from the Beltonford Roundabout just off the A1 next to the Village of West Barns in East Lothian. This is about a 65 minute Drive from the west of Edinburgh. It is clearly sign posted and we found it quite easily. Just before you enter West Barns there is a left hand turn down a single lane track with little lay-by's to let you get passed other vehicles. Then you have the turn off for the John Muir Country Park. Continue on and you will see the sign saying entrance to East Links. The car park isn't your typical car park. It's sort of set round a triangle type pen where you can see some of the animals from the farm. When we visited there were Goats in the Pen. I would say there is space for about 100 cars. It opens at 10am until 5pm apart form in the summer holidays when it stays open until 6pm.
There is a sort of Barn place which is where the tearoom and the admission office is. We got up the wooden ramp no problems and there were little stairs which are ideal for little walkers to manage themselves. The ramp looks fairly new and was in a very good condition. Walking into the reception area, you notice how bright and clean it is. There are 2 statues of Cows which for some reason at first I thought they were real. The reception area is just before the door leading out of the barn. You pay and get a sticker and also are able to buy animal feed. There is 2 types of animal feed but it is best to ask as the staff are very knowledgeable. The prices to get in was that we paid £6 per adult and £5 for children over 3. Our toddler was free.
The tearoom has around 18 square tables. Not the best sort of tables for large parties as they only seat 4. There isn't much choice in food but the homemade soups looked good and they had rolls and pannis available as well as baked potatoes. The prices were reasonable and there were lots of homebaking available but if it is nice day I would advise a picnic and eating outside at the picnic tables. The tearoom was spotless and the staff were on the ball so tables were cleared very quickly.
Outside into the vast land round about you have lots of Occupy your family. There are various Pens with animals inside. These tend to run round the back area and faces openly on to the train track. One little part has a lane towards the left of the Park. At the bottom within the trees is a roped maze. We didn't try it but we saw it from the train. There is a huge pirate ship which has sand inside and some great climbing equipment as well as buckets and spades. This would be great on a dry day but it had rained the night before so the sand was fairly wet still and so was most of the equipment. There is a mini play park with swings and also a slide. This was a wooden swing set and was very sturdy that even Mr G had a go. There was a green hilly thing which we joked looked like a ski slope. Well we weren't far wrong, it was an all year round sledging slope. You pick up a sledge which looked like a Childs Booster seat and then slide down, but we found we had to do a lot of leg work to get down. There were also dingy type boats but they were filled with water from the rain the night before. There was also Milk bottle skittles which was the milk churns and a huge ball on a rope which you used to knock them down as well as a horseshoe thing but Mr G played that while I was chasing Murray as there was an area with Cosy Coupe Cars and pedal bikes which he really liked as well. It was sectioned off with Tyres which I found easy to cross but wee shortie struggled across. There were also go karts
There were also 2 barns. One had a softplay/bouncy castle area which is great on a rainy day, but neither of mine wanted to go in so we just peered in. Another Barn which you walk right through had various baby animals in pens. There were baby chicks and rabbits and then older rabbits and other animals which I forget the names off now. This was a nice area as it was quiet when we visited and we could take the time to take a look at the animals and talk to the children about them. The barn had 2 doors at either side so on the windy day it was quite cold. There were also some baby rabbits for sale and it was very hard to leave without them as they were so cute. But it's a great idea to get up closer to the animals and let little ones see what happens and what they are all about.
Pony rides were also available while we were there between certain times. For £1 Eilidh had a wee ride and she loved it which was great. The train is free and we think it runs every 1 hour and 15 minutes. I think it took about 10 mins all the way round. There is music on the train and it was the singing kettle which seemed to go down well with our 2. The train is open and I did find that it was very blowy while we were there. The train is great as you get to see the animals as they all come up towards the train as they know they will get some food off the people on the train. It's a great way to get pictures as you are passing.
Overall this is a fantastic idea which is being run in a great way. Once you pay everything bar pony rides are free. Some people may think that this is an expensive place to visit, but the farm is run solely on the money which it charges for admission, so for that reason, I don't mind paying the money. Personally, next time I go, I would take a picnic and try to go on a more blustery day. It was a good day out and both kids and Mr G slept on the way home from there while mummy drove. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area or in Edinburgh. Before I went I checked out the website which is full of up to date information and also had a map, to help you find your way about.
East Links Family Park Next to West Barns Village 01368 863607 www.eastlinks.fsnet.co.uk