With its amazing riverfront location, Surrey Docks Farm is a great place to take a pitstop while exploring the Rotherhithe peninsula in South East London. Here are five good reasons why we think Surrey Docks is one of the best farms to visit in London.
5 things to do at Surrey Docks Farm
1. See the lovely farm animals
The most popular activity visiting the farm is of course to admire all the lovely farm animals. Despite the limited area, you’ll find an impressive range of animals ranging from goats and sheep to rabbits and guinea pigs. While you need to book special petting sessions to interact with the animals, it’s free to see all the animals in their enclosures during opening hours. Entrance to the farm is completely free of charge for adults and children alike, but we do encourage you to make a donation if you enjoyed your visit. Also, note that all the animals on Surrey Docks Farm are farmed to free-range standards and given the best possible welfare. Here are some of the animals you can expect to see when visiting the farm:
- Goats: You can see the herd of nanny goats that live in the farm yard, including two different breeds of goat: Toggenburgs, and Anglo Nubians.
- Sheep: The sheep on Surrey Docks far are all ewes (or females) and are a rare breed called ‘Oxford Down’. The ewes give birth in the Spring with lambs reared at the farm throughout the year.
- Pigs: You can see Middle White pigs, which is a rare breed of pig with a very special short upturned nose!
- Pony: Check out the cheeky Miniature Shetland Pony called Kiera, often the star of farm events like the Easter festival!
- Poultry: Visiting the farm you can see all the usual farm birds , including a flock of free-range chickens that lay eggs for sale in the farm shop, plus ducks and geese in the pond.
- Small Animals: You can also see rabbits and guinea pigs on the farm who also take part in animal handling sessions in the holidays.
- Bees: The farm has it’s own apiary which is set-up in the farm orchard, along with an excellent bee shed which is used for beekeeping courses, beginners tasting sessions and the general running of an apiary.
2. Take part in farming activities for children
We love the way Surrey Docks Farm organises so many activities aimed at families. This includes petting sessions, feeding the lamb, donkey and pony rides, taking part in a farm holiday club as well as family cooking. Note that many of the activities need pre-booking, so make sure to check out Surrey Dock Farm’s website to plan your visit.
Surrey Docks Farm also organises a Christmas fair, spring fair, and a harvest festival in September each year that we always try to visit. There are also school workshops, and the farm supports adults with learning difficulties with projects involving different farming types. Activities such as “Plot to Shop” growing vegetables are a really nice way to engage the local community and generate extra income for the farm.
3. Take a break at the cafe
Planning to walk the Thames Path this weekend? The Thames Path between Greenwich and London Bridge is a popular activity for Londoners during weekends, and Surrey Docks Farm Cafe is a perfect pitstop halfway on the route. In addition to hot drinks and pastries, you can also buy fresh sourdough bread and a range of organic products. Note that the farm shop itself is located separately within the farm, where you can purchase farm produce like fresh eggs and vegetables.
After a long break, it’s great to see the Surrey Docks Cafe back in action again. With a very limited amount of cafes around this area, Surrey Docks Farm is one of the few good places between Shadthames and Greenwich to enjoy a break. The Thames Path is also one of London’s best traffic-free scooting and cycling routes for families, far away from London’s congested streets.
4. Participate in local community farming activities
Surrey Docks Farm is a beacon in the local community, with a range of activities aimed at all age groups and abilities. Here are a few examples of the farm engaging the local community in farming activities:
- Opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to participate in the ‘Farm Produce” project which allows adult students to learn how to cook with produce from the farm.
- New Leaf students each have their own food-growing beds which are located right by the Thames path.
- A “Plot to Shop” team growing vegetables sold in the farm cafe.
5. Pick up fresh eggs from the farm shop
The Surrey Docks Farm Shop provides organic sustainable produce to the local community. As the weather warms up, they have more seasonal veg on offer as well as chicken and duck eggs, farm-reared sausages, and meat cuts. They also add surplus jams made by their students using fruits grown on the farm.
The online gardening shop is re-stocked every Monday, and if you’re looking for plants for your balconies or gardens, check out the Sunday online gardening shop. They are currently selling a wide range of tomatoes, bedding plants, mixed trays of flowers for pots and hanging baskets, trays of vegetable plug plants, and herbs.
They are also selling bags of manure and homemade peat-free compost, perfect for your own garden. All their plants are grown with care by the staff, volunteers, and adult students with learning disabilities using our own peat-free compost and without chemicals.
Excellent animal welfare
All the animals are currently being farmed to free-range standards, and with the many friendly volunteers, we always had a good impression of the animal being taken well care of. This includes the goats occupying the inner farmyard, an eager bunch jumping up on the fences to attract attention.
The farm is also relatively large (for London city farm standards), with plenty of space for the larger animals to roam around. With the riverside location next to the Thames, the farm feels fresher and less cramped than some of the other inner-London farms.
Things to do for families around Rotherhithe
Rotherhithe is mostly a residential area without too many big attractions, but we have a few inside tips for enjoying the area around the farm. Stave Hill and Russia Dock Park are two adjourning green spaces located just a 5 minutes walk away from the farm. We particularly recommend taking the woodland walk, which is a hidden gem of nature experience in Central London.
If you’re looking for a playground in the area, we recommend stopping by Pearsons Park by the Hilton Hotel, or alternatively, Southwark Park Playground. The Surrey Commercial Docks was famous for its historical maritime connections to Scandinavia through the timber trade. The Norwegian seaman church in Rotherhithe is a great example of this era.
Closer to Central London, you’ll find the Mayflower Pub, located where the famous ship with the same name departed from in 1620 sailing to America. Close to the Mayflower Pub is the Brunel Museum, where you can get a glimpse into the very beginning of the London Underground. Check our article on areas to explore in Southwark for more interesting places to visit.
How to get to Surrey Docks Farm
Arriving by boat with Thames Clippers to Greenland Pier
If you want to arrive in style, we recommend taking the Thames Clippers service between Central London and North Greenwich stopping at Surrey Quays/Greenland Pier. After getting off at the pier just follow the Thames Path towards the farm. The walk is really nice, and you’ll get to see some of the former docks (now turned marina).
Taking the Thames Path to the farm
The Thames Path is great for family excursions as the path is mostly traffic-free and safe for kids to cycle. Follow the Cycleways route C14 or National Cycle Network 4 from Central London/Greenwich and it will take you past the farm. Read more about cycling and scooting along the Thames Path.
The nearest tube station is Canada Water, and it takes around 10 minutes to reach Surrey Docks Farm. On the way to the farm, you’ll walk through Stave Hill and Russia Dock Park which is a great place for a picnic if you’re planning a break in the summer. Alternatively, you can take bus 381 or C10 from Canada Water stopping right next to the farm.
Arriving by car and parking
There is no dedicated parking, but free on-street parking is usually available.