Adventures for all the family at The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth

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The Donkey Sanctuary

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Set along the Jurassic Coast and nestled in the tranquil East Devon countryside in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Donkey Sanctuary’s working farm is home to donkeys, mules and hinnies, large and small. At the heart of the sanctuary near Sidmouth, visitors can come and say hello to some of the hundreds of donkeys waiting to meet them – completely free of charge.

Explore the sanctuary’s new indoor attractions and discover just why donkeys are so special through fun, interactive exhibits in the new Exhibition Barn, Understanding Donkeys Zone and Dr Svendsen’s Hut. And the adventure doesn’t stop there; with the maze, nature centre and farm-themed play area providing lots of fun too. Each day there are also guided tours, fascinating talks and donkey demonstrations as well as regular events throughout the year and activities during school holidays.

Take a moment to relax in the family-friendly restaurant, The Kitchen, and enjoy freshly prepared dishes using local, ethically sourced produce overlooking the donkeys’ paddocks and sea. For a selection of quality gifts and donkey-design items to suit every pocket, head to the new Gift Shop.

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded as a charity in 1969, by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE. They currently have an incredible 6,300 donkeys in their care worldwide. Admission and parking is free (donations welcome). Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a lead, and many of the farm trails are access and bike-friendly.

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Free entrance, ample parking, beautiful grounds and many walk trails to choose from. You don’t need to love Donkeys to come to the Sanctuary: going to the Sanctuary helps in looking after these often undermined animals, however it also gives the chance to have a great day out. There so much open space, a walk down to a pebbly beach, a fun maze which my children have loved since years and a delicious restaurant. The walk down to the beach is quite steep so I would suggest not to do it if you have a child in a pram but good otherwise for all the family. The actual grounds are beautiful! A great day out overall.


Have always wanted to visit here and was not disappointed. The setting is gorgeous and all the donkeys looked to be very well looked after. There is no admission charge but donations are gratefully received. There is a large restaurant serving a variety of delicious food (we had a cream tea during our visit) and a gift shop which admittedly caters for children in the main but still worth visiting. The staff were all polite and very helpful. The whole place was clean and tidy, including the toilets. Would definitely recommend a visit.


How To Find Us

The nearest motorway to The Donkey Sanctuary is the M5 which serves the West Country. Leave Junction 30 at Exeter and follow the A3052 for 13 miles until you reach the sanctuary. The A35 and A30 also serve East Devon and the Jurassic Coast.

The car park includes ample coach parking to welcome groups, although group visits need to be booked in advance by calling: 01395 573156.

There are a number of disabled parking spaces to allow access for wheelchair users.

Local bus routes serving The Donkey Sanctuary include the 899 Axe Valley Mini Travel and the 9A Stagecoach (Exeter – Seaton).

The Sidmouth Hopper Bus also serves the sanctuary from 26 May to 2 September, excluding 3 – 10 August (Sidmouth Folk Week).

The Donkey Sanctuary is bike friendly and sits on Route 2 of the National Cycle Network. The route between Sidmouth and Lyme Regis passes Trow Farm on Dunscombe Lane. Continue on Dunscombe Lane, crossing over the roundabout, until you reach the sanctuary’s main visitor entrance.

The sanctuary is located along the South West Coast Path between Sidmouth and Branscombe. At Weston Mouth, follow the steps north towards the sanctuary where you will see the National Trust’s interpretation of the Weston Potato Plats. The footpath will take you past the Field of Dreams and the Nature Centre, towards the heart of the sanctuary.

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