Walks Around Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary South West Coast Path
Being local to Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary, means I have been there more times than I can remember with the children, especially when they were younger.
It is a fantastic place for a stroll, to admire the donkeys living there and to join in one of the many seasonal events or children’s trails. Recently a much larger cafe has been built and a great deal of building is nearing completion to provide an enhanced visitor experience. If you are looking for a day out in East Devon then this really is one of the top places to go.
An Accessible Devon Attraction
One of the best things about Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary from a visitor point view, is that whatever your age or ability there is something to suit you. Short accessible walks around the donkey enclosures, grassy routes perfect for toddlers around the paddocks, or longer walks outside the Sanctuary. It is also dog friendly (although our dog was not quite sure what to make of the donkeys up close!)
A Choice of Footpaths
As well as the paths within the Donkey Sanctuary, there is a public footpath that passes though it and many others just a short distance away. You can join the South West Coast Path down to Weston Mouth beach or take a number of different routes to Sidmouth, Sidbury or Branscombe.
Following the helpful map you can pick up from the visitor centre, I headed down a track through the woods. I went past the Nature Centre and into the Field Of Dreams. In the summer this is a lovely space for children to play, however on this occasion a chalk board advised me it was muddy!
I persevered through the Field of Dreams and down the next steep track towards the beach. However in the following field it really did became too muddy. The sea was tantalisingly close, but I could just envisage myself landing on my backside, the camera covered in mud! It had been my intention to walk all the way down to Weston Mouth (about 1 mile) but I decided to leave it for another day.
Although shorter than planned this was still a nice walk, the dog had fun and was very muddy! She was back on the lead as soon as we returned into the sanctuary.
Instead I headed back up hill, up a wide track that is a public footpath into the woods. There were lovely views across the valley and glimpses of the sea. It brought me into the middle of a caravan park. Just walk on through and you end up on the road that leads back to the sanctuary.
The Walk to Weston Mouth Beach
If you want to try the walk to Weston Beach, although not very far is quite steep. From the Donkey Sanctuary head down hill on the path towards the woods, past the Nature Centre. Follow your nose downhill all the way to the shingle beach.
To make the return journey turn you can turn right from where you joined the beach and head back up via the South West Coast Path route. Up some steps and a climb back up towards Lower Dodscombe.
From here there are a number of routes back into the Donkey Sanctuary choose from. Take a look at these options on the South West Coast Path website or this circular one via Weston which also have helpful maps.
The Kitchen – Coffee Shop and Restaurant
To call the new coffee shop a cafe is rather an injustice. The Kitchen is lovely new airy space. Make it an early start and enjoy breakfast (from 9am – 11am) or a light lunches (from 11.30am until 3pm) with coffee and cake anytime. Now you can also book in for Sunday roast – more details and sample menus for The Kitchen are here.
Supporting the Donkey Sanctuary
If you choose to park at the Sanctuary (which is free) then please also support the work they do. The Charity was established in 1969 and over the years has grown incredibly. It looks after a huge number of donkeys not just in the UK but all over the world. Not just rescuing them but also teaching their owners how to properly look after their valuable donkeys. A recent fundraising effort has meant the charity has also been able to fund a purpose built hospital and has taken the opportunity to redevelop the Slade Farm site.
Recently opened is the “Understanding the Donkey” zone and Dr Svendsen’s Hut – a tribute to the founder with displays some of her own books, her writing desk and a phone that when it rings is answered with Dr Svendsen’s voice on the other end.
Due to open early next year is a new visitor centre with a welcome area and an exhibition area showcasing the work of the charity worldwide and across the UK.
Adopt a Donkey
One great way to support the work the charity does is to Adopt a Donkey. This makes an ideal gift especially for children. Your adoption pack includes portraits, postcards, a certificate and membership card as well as newsletters. Unlike many other adoption schemes you can actually go and visit your donkey at the Sanctuary. I saw Millie, who is one of the donkeys looking for some love!
Enjoy A Visit
I hope you get a chance to visit the Donkey Sanctuary, near Sidmouth in East Devon. What’s even better is that entrance free with just a small charge for some of the children’s activity trails. Currently running until 6th January is the 12 Donkeys of Christmas trail that costs £2. That means hopefully you can spend a few extra pounds in the cafe or gift shop to support the charity.
Other Walks Nearby
If you have enjoyed this walk then please take a look at some of the others ones in the area I have covered. Nearby you can walk to Fire Beacon Hill which is another good walk with a fabulous view of the Jurassic Coast.
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