Monday, April 20, 2009

Seals at Gweek

Over Easter we took a trip to the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek.

The weather was good for us and the setting of the centre is just beautiful. There are reasonably lengthy walks to get to the seal pools themselves and further to the otter area, but these are attractive and interesting to walk, interspersed with information boards about wildlife you can potentially see in the area or facts about the centre, its animals and its work. The question boards where you have to figure out the answers were a big hit with the children, particularly my eldest.

We were lucky enough that the children had the opportunity to participate in feeding the sea lions, and the short talk which went with it was just right for the audience. The seals and sea lions themselves were splendid fellows and we spent a very long time watching them swim underwater through a viewing wall, all of us trying to catch a picture as they sped by. Other attractions included paddocks of ponies, artificial rockpools with sealife, the "safari bus" and the otter enclosure. The wooded walk to the otters' home was particularly picturesque as we had left all signs of boatyards in the river behind: we saw egrets and nesting swans on our stroll.

The children made 'lucky pennies' in a machine on the way in, and their own badges near the rockpool. Making the badges was especially rewarding and something my son wanted to discuss at his next class "show & tell".

We had a great time and my daughter was negotiating to come back again, as we left.

One reservation I would have about recommending the Seal Sanctuary to others would be the pricing for entry. We were fortunate to have vouchers, but otherwise a family of four would have been £36. However, you can buy discounted tickets online, and of course, the work the sanctuary does for the seals is no doubt worth the money.

We didn't visit the cafe as we had lunched in the car en route, but the icecreams in the shop were reasonably priced, as were sticks of rock. The shop was relatively small, but that's not a bad thing (having chased children round massive ones before now, saying no fifty times a second), and from what little looking I did beyond sweeties and ices, the selection of toys and souvenirs appeared decent and seemingly not outrageously overpriced, unlike some places.

It was a little unfortunate that there are no toilets beyond a certain point in the sanctuary, so when small son needed the loo we had to hike back up the hill quite some way from the seal pools. What I learnt from this was, should I visit again in future, to insist they go on the way down whether they think they need to or not! It seemed to me that an extra loo near the cafe would be an improvement, but presumably there are reasons there isn't one, and it did warn us at the top of the hill that there were no loos beyond.

All in all it was a most satisfactory day out and the children enjoyed themselves greatly.

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