Adventures for all the family at The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth

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The Donkey Sanctuary

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Description

Set along the Jurassic Coast near Sidmouth and nestled in the tranquil East Devon countryside in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is The Donkey Sanctuary; an award-winning visitor attraction home to hundreds of friendly donkeys just waiting to meet you – 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. Besides the furry residents, enjoy scenic farm trails, get lost in the hedge maze, discover the Nature Centre and venture further afield to the South West Coast Path. During school holidays there are also activities to keep the family entertained, from Easter hunts to pumpkin carving, plus demonstrations, talks and tours provided by the visitor team.

Enjoy stunning coast and country views in their Taste of the West award-winning restaurant, The Kitchen, where you’ll find freshly-prepared dishes using local, ethically sourced produce. And for a souvenir to remember your day by, the new Gift Shop is the perfect place to a pick up quality donkey-design items or gifts.

The Donkey Sanctuary celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019, after being founded as a charity in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE. Admission and parking are free (donations welcome) and the sanctuary is open from 9am, 365 days a year. Dogs are welcome on a lead, and many of the farm trails are access and bike-friendly.

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I was amazed and surprised that this sanctuary looks after its visitors with the same care they show the donkeys. The grounds are immaculately maintained – good paths and fences, with well tended flower beds and borders. The car park even has charging points for electric cars! The donkeys all looked content and well cared for and the layout means that the donkeys can interact with visitors as they choose. We also enjoyed the maze and found a lovely open-sided shelter in the middle – great for a group photo. The visitor centre contains plenty of interesting facts and figures about donkeys around the world, as well as a shop and cafe/restaurant with beautiful views over the countryside. We had (pre-booked) Sunday lunch here and the tender, well-flavoured beef was perfectly cooked – in fact better than I’ve had in some expensive restaurants! I don’t live locally or I’d certainly be going back more regularly. Highly recommended.

Magweena

The work that the sanctuary do for these donkeys & the way that they look after them is fabulous. The donkeys are well cared for & happy. The new reception & restaurant area is absolutely beautiful, what a gorgeous view out the the windows while you eat. The food & sweet treats are delicious. There is plenty to do with the little ones, the maze is always a hit! Plenty of places to run off some energy in play areas & some beautiful walks available. As well as the yard with opportunity to groom and interact with the donkeys in personal environment. Complete with a beautiful gift shop. I visit the sanctuary several times a year & sponsor a donkey also. I recommend this to all ages. I love to go myself, my young family members & I also take elderly residents from my work to visit, they have the best time! The sanctuary actually brings the donkeys out to care environments also which I can’t shout about how wonderful and beneficial this is to the elderly, particularly those with dementia. The staff are truly wonderful. The sanctuary needs support from us to keep being able to expand & care for these wonderful animals.

AliKM24

A brilliant trip for all the family! The donkeys are wonderfully cared for. Something there for everyone and a lovely cafe. Friendly staff and volunteers. Thoroughly recommend it!

Karen M

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.

randwick1

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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