Hee-haw: A day out at the Donkey Sanctuary
Anyone of a certain age will remember, I’m sure, partaking in a donkey ride at the beach on a UK summer holiday or too, I certainly do I’ve got the photos to prove it. But it seems that they’ve been having a rough ride (s’cuse the pun) and the Donkey Sanctuary is helping the unfortunate ones rescuing and rehabilitating them within its tranquil setting near Sidmouth in Devon.
I’m no stranger to the charity which is a short drive from my home and with the no fee entrance, I’ve visited several times when looking for a cheap day out. They rely on the kind and generous donations to keep it going and being a great family day out and tourist attraction I can see why. It was voted one of the best family days out by the Telegraph in 2016.
Aside from the chance to get up close and personal with the donkeys, as well as educate yourself on their welfare and the work of The Donkey Sanctuary, there are some beautiful and well-designed walks taking you around the whole (public) site where you do some donkey spotting and even walk your dog (on a lead of course!)
We visited recently to make the most of the spring sunshine. Parking up and making your way around the main area, the kids loved checking out the names of each one which was printed on a collar around their necks. The challenge for the day was to ﬁnd a donkey who shared their name. There’s a great area in the main yard where you can get close up and mingle with them under the watchful eye of the staff.
After the kids had had their ﬁll, we headed up to the play area located at the beginning of one of the walks where my toddler spent the majority of the time hiding in the miniature stable knowing I’d be too big to get him out! They played around on the wooden donkeys, stepping stones, willow tunnel and pretended to drive the tractor while the picnic tables were a welcome resting place for us adults. Tip, there is a cafe on site, but it’s worth taking a picnic too as there are plenty of places to stop and rest on one of the several walks taking you out of the hub of the Donkey Sanctuary.
Once we’d pried them away from our pitstop, we carried on for a beautiful woodland walk through carpets of bluebells and wild garlic in search for the hermits house where the kids stopped to pretend play. Amazing how gadgets and the modern world was forgotten so quickly. As we walked on we stumbled across an information nature hut where they found animal skulls and even more questions were asked (and answered thanks to the information boards!) a real unexpected ﬁnd.
The great thing about this place is it’s not over commercialised and perfect if you’re wanting to be out in the fresh air, just appreciating what nature has to offer, with the added attraction of the animals. It’s well maintained and you can easily spend a day here if you're in the mood for a relaxing, meander through the grounds. A fabulous, family friendly day out which isn't too hard on the wallet.