Written on: 27/01/2007 by Helen of Troy (188 reviews written)
Plenty of parking
Easy to find
You can pet some of the donkeys
You can adopt a donkey
The Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth is a wonderful day out for all ages, and entry is free!
All the donkey's there have been rescued from some situation or another. They do not breed donkeys there, but they care for them when they may have suffered neglect, their owners could no longer keep them, or they may have been rescued for some other reason. Whatever reason, they never turn away a donkey in need.
You can find the Donkey Sanctuary by taking junction 30 off the M5 Sandygate, near Moto Services. Coming off the slip road, follow the signs to Sidmouth, which is the first turning off the roundabout. Keep in the left hand lane, up to the next roundabout and take the second exit. Keep going along this road, approximately 12 miles, you will see a signpost to Sidmouth on the right; ignore that and just keep going straight, another couple of miles, until you see signs for the Donkey Sanctuary on the right. It is just outside Sidmouth. Go along a narrow country lane, which will bring you into the car park. Park your car and enjoy!
Walking around the Donkey Sanctuary you will notice many people have bequested money, with little plaques to commemorate the donors. The entire Sanctuary is run by these generous bequests and donations from the public, so please bear this in mind when you have finished your visit, and either leave a donation or purchase something from the gift shop. This is completely up to you, but I always give something for the Donkeys as a thanks for a nice day out.
There are donkeys everywhere! Some in fields, some in pens, all very clean, absolutely beautiful and exceptionally well cared for. You can walk around at your leisure. There is also an enclosure you can go in and pet the donkeys, the kids will love it! And a donkey barn for wet weather days. There is a webcam set up in this barn so that you can see some of the donkeys for yourself - just put Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary webcam on Google search! There are old donkeys, young donkeys, some special needs donkeys, donkeys of every description! Grey, brown, white, long haired, short haired, large and small! And a few chickens running around sometimes!
After you have finished looking at the donkeys, there are maps available for some lovely walks around the Sanctuary. Comfortable shoes are essential, as some are a few miles around!
Then return for a nice cup of tea and a bite to eat in the cafe. And buy the kids an ice-cream!
You may also be interested in having a look around the Slade Centre if it is not in use. This is a special centre set up for children from special needs Schools around the area. Some of these children suffer with various disabilities, but they can ride on the donkeys with assistance. The look of joy on their faces is a picture. Two of my children attended at different times, and the experience for them was unforgettable. They had rides on the donkeys, a walk around the Sanctuary and back for a lovely lunch. Obviously it is closed to the public when children are in the Slade Centre. All of this is paid for from funds donated by the public also.
There is a room with a small cinema type screen where you can go in, take a seat and watch and listen to what the Donkey Sanctuary is all about.
So far, all you have paid for is your own refreshments. So maybe now is the time to pay a visit to the gift shop where you can buy some really nice and unusual gifts. You can just make a donation, you can join the kids in their club whereby they will receive regular newsletters and other goodies, or you can adopt a donkey! Whatever takes your fancy! But if you're feeling skint, you are under no obligation whatsoever.
The staff at the Donkey Sanctuary will always stop and chat if they have time. They are a very friendly lot, and they will answer any questions you or your children have.
Next time you are in the Devon area and looking for somewhere to go for the day, just remember The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth. The resident donkeys will love to meet you!
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