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County Durham farm named UK’s best attraction

A County Durham farm has been crowned as the UK’s best agricultural attraction of the year after its owner went viral online during lockdown for his daily videos that reached audiences in Canada, New Zealand, and the USA.

Hall Hill Farm, near Lanchester, scooped two awards at the 2022 National Farm Attraction Network Awards (NFAN) after being named Farm Attraction of the Year 2022 and Farm Attraction with the Best Digital Presence.

The accolades were announced by Jules Hudson, from Escape to the Country and Countryfile, in June at an awards dinner as part of a three-day Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition in Newport, Wales.

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The annual awards recognize the best in the industry.

This was the first NFAN Conference held since the pandemic and farmer from Hall Hill Farm, Richard Darlington, was also a finalist in the ‘Lockdown Legend’ category.

The NFAN Farm Attraction of the Year is awarded to the attraction with under 75,000 annual visitors that has delivered the best overall customer experience and is a very competitive category.

Farmer Richard Darlington with a Highland cow and new born calf at Hall Hill Farm. Picture: HALL HILL FARM

Hall Hill Farm has invested heavily in new facilities and attractions and the judges commented it has “Everything a young family would want for a trip out in the countryside”

The Best Digital Presence is awarded to the attraction whose own website and social media outperform in terms of its visibility, user-friendliness, and engagement.

Despite impressing judges with its attractions and facilities, it was also the viral ability of the farm that put Hall Hill on the map.

The Northern Echo: Hall Hill Farm's Ann Darlington & Richard Darlington at the NFAN Awards.  Picture: HALL HILL FARMHall Hill Farm’s Ann Darlington & Richard Darlington at the NFAN Awards. Picture: HALL HILL FARM

Farmer Richard’s daily video became essential viewing for many people during the lockdown, making the farm a destination with visitors from as far away as California, Australia, and New Zealand.

Now fully open again, Richard is still making daily videos of life on the farm, of which the main stars are the Farm’s Highland Cattle.

Ann Darlington, tourism manager at Hall Hill Farm, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to win these prestigious awards. The pandemic has been tough for many people, and we are pleased if we have helped people in a small way to get through that. It is also brilliant to see so many people back at Hall Hill Farm in person.

The Northern Echo: Southdown Sheep at Hall Hill Farm.  Picture: HALL HILL FARMSouthdown Sheep at Hall Hill Farm. Picture: HALL HILL FARM

“I would like to thank all our staff who work hard at ensuring our visitors enjoy a great day out. Also, a special thanks to our visitors, many of whom return time and time again, for supporting us.”

Hall Hill Farm is open daily until the end of September.

The award-winning Hall Hill Farm, a family-run tourist attraction in County Durham, has been providing children and families with an educational and fun day out for over 40 years.

The farm has expanded steadily over the years and recently added new play areas and Mini Jeeps, with plans underway to improve the catering facilities in the future.

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