A free day out with the animals at the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary

Erin with a horse at Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary

The O'Hallorans

The OHallorans

We’re made up of Lyndsey, John and Erin, who all love a new adventure. We try to get away as much as possible, especially during school holidays and variety is a must for us. That means staying anywhere from a luxury hotel to a hostel and it’s not often we go to the same place twice. 

If you’re looking for a fantastic family-friendly destination in Norfolk, the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary (also known as Hillside Animal Sanctuary) is a must-visit. Nestled in our beautiful Norfolk countryside, this sanctuary helps to look after animals, not just horses, who need a forever home. Let’s explore the wonders of Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary and what they offer, in this blog post. 

Address and contact information

Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary,
Sandy Lane,
West Runton,
NR27 9QH

Opening times

The Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary is open from Easter to the end of October. They are open every day apart from Saturdays.

Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary entrance

Entrance fee

There is no cost to visit the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary however, donations are always welcome.

What animals can you expect to see?

It’s not just horses you can see at the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary, although they are the main reason we visit most of the time. Near the front, close to the cafe and gift shop, there is a row of stables, where you can stroke a variety of horses. These stables are open daily and the horses are moved back to other areas when the sanctuary closes. The top half of the stable doors are open so you’re able to stroke the horses if you’re tall enough. Smaller or younger children might struggle a little bit. For animal lovers though, this is a wonderful experience and the horses are so friendly. 

Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary stables for horses

Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary covers quite a lot of land and they have space for loads of animals. There are so many rescued animals here and the sanctuary helps to raise public awareness for what these animals need in terms of care and forever homes. Expect to see the likes of goats, sheep, pigs and alpacas, all running around and having a great time. It’s so nice to see how much space they have and to see some animals that live together. 

Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary goats

Other animals include donkeys, which you can stroke, rabbits, ducks and aviary birds! There’s really so much for everyone here and I love how wide the variety of animals is. You can spend ages reading about each of the animals, learning their names and seeing what kinds of things they like. 

Erin with the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary donkeys

Children’s play area

The children’s play area at the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary is fantastic and well worth visiting for alone. The play area is fairly large and set off to one side of the animal area. The play area includes things such as climbing equipment, swings, a see-saw and play equipment that looks like farm machinery. The area overlooks the beautiful North Norfolk countryside and it’s such a great place for children to play if they want a break from looking at the animals. 

Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary play area

Farming bygones museum 

Just before you reach the main area with the majority of the animals you’ll come across a small farming bygones museum. The building here also doubles up as a second-hand bookshop and a shop selling bric-a-brac. This is the only indoor area apart from the gift shop and cafe. The small museum has an extensive collection of carts, which are really interesting to look at and read about. This is a great educational area if you’re visiting with children. 

Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary shop sign

Animal-friendly cafe

There is a small animal-friendly cafe on site, close to the entrance. Here, you can get a range of animal-friendly refreshments such as snacks and soft drinks as well as ice cream if it’s a nice day. There are plenty of picnic tables and benches outside so there’s somewhere to sit and eat. In the past, we have taken our own food with us, as have plenty of other people. 

As free days out go, this is a great one! You can spend a good few hours at the Hillside Shire Horse Sanctuary and it’s lovely for the whole family. I love it just as much as children do!

Other places to visit in North Norfolk:

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