A couple of weeks ago, Christine, Lizzie and I went to Kilnsey Park Estate in North Yorkshire. I’d been many years before with my parents, as it has a well-known inland trout farm. Located in the Yorkshire Dales, in the shadow of Kilnsey Crag, it was a place we’d often stop off at on the way home from a day walking in the hills.
This time, we made a day of it. Arriving in time for lunch, we ate at the café, which, as you’d expect, offers mostly trout-based dishes. Lizzie had trout and chips, and I had a nice trout salad. The café is open to all and there’s a gift shop which sells local produce. And trout.
It’s around £5 per adult to enter the rest of the site. We followed the ‘Explorer trail’, which starts at the bottom of the valley and heads up to Kilnsey spring. This provides the water for the trout farm, and drives two small hydroelectric generators. Combined with a water-based heat pump, Kilnsey Park is able to generate all of its own energy.
There’s a small farm area with some pygmy and Angora goats, pigs, sheep and various chickens. Kilnsey is also home to some red squirrels; once prevalent in the UK but now restricted to just a few remote places in the wild. The red squirrels are in a cage, which, combined with their quick movements, make them quite hard to take photos of.
Heading out into the fields, and there are pheasants and grouse. And some alpacas – Kilnsey Park has been home to alpacas for around 100 years, and used to supply wool to Salt’s Mill in Saltaire near Bradford.
Further up the hillside, there’s a small butterfly garden, which lived up to its name – there were plenty of butterflies there.
And yes, there were more trout. You get to see the various different pools across the site, from the nursery at the top down to the mature pools at the bottom. Bags of fish food are available to purchase and Lizzie really enjoyed feeding the fish. For an extra cost, you can hire a fishing rod to catch the trout, although you also have to pay £3 for every fish you catch. Processing facilities are provided should you wish to take your catches home to eat. Lizzie was a bit too young for this but it would be great to come back when she’s older and a bit more patient.
It was nice to visit Kilnsey again, and I was pleased that there was enough to do there to be able to spend a whole day. It’s not expensive, and seeing the red squirrels was a highlight for me. Lizzie enjoyed it as well – it’s a good place to take an adventurous toddler. And there are plenty of good photo opportunities – especially if the weather is nice.