ONE of Ballymoney’s top tourist attractions has closed its doors.

Leslie Hill Farm which brought thousands of visitors to the Borough since it began in 1989 was not opened at Easter and a message on the website said:

“Unfortunately, Leslie Hill will not be opening for Easter 2013 and will remain closed throught June, July and August.

“We thank you wholeheartedly for your visits in previous years and are sorry to disappoint you at this time.”

A council spokesperson confirmed that they had been contacted to not include the Farm on their tourist information brochures.

A member of the family, Mr. John Leslie, said his parents who ran the farm since it opened, were both over 80 and had “done as much as they could.” He added that they had wanted to retire.

Mr. Leslie said it was regrettable that the Farm had to close but did not rule it re-opening in the future.

Councillor Bill Kennedy said the news had saddened him. It was, he said, a very popular and well established facility in Ballymoney and provided the Borough with a great tourist boost.

“Leslie Hill was ideal for families and young children and had helped educate a great many in the ways of farming and how to care and look after animals.”

“Mr. and Mrs. James Leslie deserve to step back and take things a bit easier and I wish both a very happy retirement,” he added.

Set in the sprawling estate just outside the town, Leslie Hill was described as a place in which to spend a fun few hours with the family.

It was a place where families could enjoy the company of animals, have a picnic and use the play facilities as well as walking around the grounds.

The blurb on the website stated: “Leslie Hill is a unique place with open spaces and an air of peace and serenity. Visitors can walk through wooded avenues to the walled garden, along the paths to the lake and through idyllic parkland for a view of the 18th century house. Bring a picnic or call at the Tea Room. Children will enjoy barrel train rides, meeting the farmyard animals and exploring the playgrounds and old walled garden.

“Animals and birds include donkeys, ponies, rabbits, guinea pigs, poultry, ornamental pheasants, ducks, geese, llamas and deer.

“We can’t always guarantee the weather but we will guarantee that you will leave this lovely place feeling refreshed and relaxed.”