To make the most of an unexpected sunny Saturday last weekend I took my boys to WWT Slimbridge. The Wetland Centre is located between Gloucester and Bristol, just minutes away from the Sharpness Canal. We visited Slimbridge last summer when Harry was a newborn, since he has started walking I have been eagerly wanting to return to the attraction to give my boys the opportunity to get up close with the birds and other wildlife and have a splash around in Welly Boot Land!
It is not surprising the charity run visitor attraction has won awards, for it offers so many experiences for birdwatchers and families to discover all year round. This article will share our highlights and top tips for visiting the attraction.
The highlights of our day were…
Hand feeding the birds. We purchased some grain from the reception and (after a slight battle with Harry who wanted to eat the grain himself!) we had fun feeding the ducks, geese and swans.
Splashing around in Welly Boot Land. The purpose built water play area complete with slides, bridges and nets proved to be a massive hit with my boys. They particularly loved splashing around and building dams.
Discovering the LEGO animals and birds which were dotted around the Wetland Centre. Charlie was so excited to find the giant LEGO brick animals, the LEGO trail really added to the adventure of our visit. We saw them during the last weekend they were being exhibited at Slimbridge but you can find out where they are going next here.
Getting up close to the Flamingos. Unbelievably, Slimbridge is the only place in the world where you can see all six species of flamingo! One species in particular, the Greater flamingos, can be viewed at arms length as they have a lovely new home in the Flamingo Lagoon which has a sunken observatory. My boys loved the observatory and we stayed in there for 20 minutes just watching the flamingos interact with each other.
Watching the Otter show. The mum otter Flo with her playful twins Minnie and Ha Ha thoroughly entertained Charlie and Harry who were captivated with their frolicking in the water and diving around for the fish. The show was good fun for kiddies and informative for adults so definitely a show not to be missed.
Exploring the playground. The playground is conveniently located at the far end of the Wetland Centre so makes a perfect stop for a relaxing coffee whilst the kids have fun!
Top tips for visiting WWT Slimbridge
Purchase your tickets online and save 10%. Unlike other attractions, when you buy online you can visit anytime within a six month period. This is a very family friendly policy, as things do not always go to plan with kiddies!
Give yourself a full day to enjoy the attraction. We arrived just before midday, by the time we had fed the birds, had a splash around in Welly Boot Land and enjoyed our picnic lunch it was already 2.00pm. We did managed to fit in two talks/feeds and walked around the entire wetland centre but it would have been nice to have more time at the playground and in the soft play area in the Toad Hall.
Take a photo of the daily walks and talks schedule to make sure you do not miss anything. Whenever I go to an attraction I always take a quick photo of the daily schedule so that I have it as an easy reference on my phone. Some of the daily activities taking place during our visit can be seen on the image below.
Book for the canoe safari. Charlie was looking on longingly at the canoes but at only four he is not quite old enough to take part. I have promised we will return when he is five to take a canoe trip and search for water voles, dragon flies and ducks.
Pick up a free centre map and kids quiz sheet on arrival. We enjoyed guessing who the birds and animals were on the ‘Who am I?’ quiz sheet and we learnt lots about the endangered residents of Slimbridge.
Buy a couple of bags of grain at the reception to feed the birds. Slimbridge ask their visitors to feed the birds with grain and not bread, although if you do forget and turn up with bread they will kindly swap it for you!
Take a picnic. There are benches throughout the wetland centre to sit and enjoy some refreshments however there are also picnic tables with umbrellas in Welly Boot Land and the playground near the Canoe Safari. Both of these areas also have kiosks (cash only) operating in the busy periods selling hot drinks, sandwiches, hot dogs and ice creams. I enjoyed a coffee whilst my boys explored the playground and played in the sand pit. If you run out of time to make a picnic there is also a coffee shop and cafe located in the visitor centre selling a range of hot and cold refreshments.
Pack the kids waterproofs and wellies! Welly Boot Land is fabulous for toddlers through to juniors. As it was such a lovely day, my boys splashed around in their swimming costumes and crocs but wellies and waterproof jackets would be more suitable for colder days.
Do not miss going up the observation tower with your camera at the ready! My boys took so long to be convinced to leave the playground we ended up arriving too late at the observation tower and so we missed out. We did enjoy the 360° panoramic views last summer though and I promise that the 70 steps are definitely worth the effort for the superb views (although there is also a lift available!)
If the excitement gets too much for little ones head to Toad Hall. There is a lovely colouring area for kiddies to chill out and a small soft play area all conveniently located close to the cafe.
On our walk to the car I asked Charlie if he had enjoyed his day…. “Mummy I would love to live here at Slimbridge” he said…. I will take that as a yes!
Need to know – Online ticket prices with gift aid: Adult £11.43, Child (4 – 16 years) £6.30, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £32, Concession £8.82, Child (under four) free
Disclaimer – We enjoyed our visit courtesy of WWT Slimbridge. All opinions are as always our own.
Have you visited WWT Slimbridge? Can you add any tips to my list above?