The Greenfield Valley Heritage Park is a hidden gem and makes for a very reasonably priced family day out.
As the name suggests, the heritage park is spread out over a mile long valley in Holywell, Flintshire. For hundreds of years the valley was a major source of industry, from copper to textiles. It was also the site of some important ancient monuments from St Winefride’s Well at the top end of the valley, to the to the ruins of the Basingwerk Abbey at the estuary end. Many of the remnants of the valley’s historical buildings are spread out over the valley for you to see via some lovely woodland walks which are free of charge to walk in.
This review is for the Greenfield Valley Museum which is a paid area within the Greenfield Valley Heritage Park. If you’re taking the kids, which I’m guessing you are if you are reading this, then this is the best place to visit! Prices can be found here, but do look out for deals on Groupon every now and again.
Firstly a note on car parking. It took us 3 attempts to get to the main car park nearest the museum, so do use my Sat Nav link on the Info Bar. The car park shown on Google maps is at the opposite end of the valley meaning you’ve got a bit of a walk to get to the museum, so if you want to be near use my link!
As you walk up from the car park the first attraction you’ll come to is the remains of the twelfth century Basingwerk Abbey. The kids absolutely loved exploring and clambering over the remaining stone structures, although I tried to be conscious of it’s Grade I listed status!!
Across from the abbey is the ticket office, shop and entrance to the Greenfield Valley Museum. Toilets can also be found here.
Once you’ve purchased your tickets go out of the shop from the opposite entrance you came in. We didn’t and it took us ages to work out how to get into the museum! It’s obvious once you know! From here you enter into what feels like a small farm, with all the attractions dotted around a small area.
We headed straight to the play area (naturally) which can be found by turning right at the tree with the bench round it (straight ahead of you as you come out of the shop). We spent absolutely ages here and had to drag them away in the end. The main attraction is a large set of interconnected plastic tunnels which they can run inside (or rather over as they all seemed to prefer).
There are two large wooden tree house like frames which are connected by a wobbly bridge and a small frame with slide for the under 3s.
Additionally there are two sets of two swings (infant and junior) and a spinning cup.
There’s also a lovely water play feature (it’s at the far end of the park so is easy to miss). Unfortunately it wasn’t working when we were there but hopefully that was just temporary as I think they would have had great fun here.
For picnics there are lots of benches dotted around and this is where we had a (quiet) lunch whilst the kids played. On the back left hand side is a little cafe hatch where you can get ice cream and drinks too.
Behind the park is a Victorian school which used to be located at the top of the valley from it’s opening in 1877. It was abandoned in the 1960’s and was reconstructed to this location when the museum was created. Inside is a school room complete with wooden benches, the teacher’s podium and a piano.
I tried to point out the differences between this classroom and theirs, preaching to them about how lucky they were to be educated in the 21st century but as usual it fell on deaf ears as they took it in turns to play the role of the teacher and inflicting pain on the piano!
From here we went back into the main museum courtyard and went into Cwn Llydan farmhouse. Just like the school, this was originally located on the slopes of Moel Famau where it had stood for a mere 180 years before being reconstructed at the museum! I really enjoy looking at the way people used to live and this was no exception, each room in the two story building is set up as it would have been in the Victorian era of the nineteenth century. The kitchen is an eye opener, how did they manage??!!
Similarly further up is the Pentre Farmhouse which originally stood in the village of Lixwm ( just south of Holywell) and dates to the early 16th century. Today, it’s been reconstructed to how it would have looked in the 17th century.
Across from here is a small tarmaced area with little ride on tractors to play with. Once again this is somewhere we couldn’t get them away from, despite them having similar things at home which are gathering dust!
In the other barns/farm buildings there is still so much to see from water wheels, 3D maps of the valley, a collection of farming machines and equipment, a factory workers house, a blacksmiths and even some pigs!
The only part we didn’t see was the little mud kitchen which, due to Covid you had to book for, but by all accounts it’s good fun (and messy!).
Finally the main attraction within the museum which they loved was the Mega Tower Maze. Starting at one tower you have to make your way through the maze to the tower on the opposite side and just like on our recent trip to BeWILDerwood we were outwitted by the kids in a race to the finish!
Throughout the year the museum run many events, so if you can tie in your visit with one of these then it’ll be even more of an impressive visit!
For eateries, come out of the museum ticket building/shop, turn left and across on your right you’ll see the 1920’s Basingwerk House which now houses the Bakehouse cafe.
They have a breakfast and lunch menu as well as ice creams and drinks, do check the opening times on their facebook page as it does vary. There are lots of benches outside if you prefer to sit in the fresh air, there’s also a large lawn at the back the kids can play on once they’ve eaten.
Although the museum and abbey was enough of a run around for a day trip for our kids I hope in time to explore more of the valley and update this entry on the free attractions which are dotted along its length. But if you do get time then do have an explore and let me know what you find!