The problem with family days out is that it’s unusual to find somewhere that adults and children both love. WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire is one of those rare places that we all enjoy for different reasons. In fact, I used to go there before having children and would still happily go without them.
What is WWT Slimbridge?
WWT stands for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. This conservation charity has various sites in the UK where they look after wetland areas in order to protect and preserve them. Alongside this, they aim to educate people to ensure that future generations will respect and value wetlands. The reserves connect people with nature in a variety of ways, with something to inspire every age-group.
The Slimbridge WWT reserve is based in Gloucestershire. There are always activities for children from feeding ducks and geese to playing in a splash pad to watching birds in a hide. Special events also take place throughout the year, and one of our favourites is the giant LEGO® brick animal trail.
Giant LEGO® at WWT Slimbridge
Between 7th July and 23rd September, the wildlife at WWT Slimbridge just got bigger! Fourteen sculptures in total make up the giant LEGO® brick animal trail. In case you were wondering, that’s a total of 253,728 LEGO® bricks!
On arrival at WWT Slimbridge, children are provided with a guide to the trail. They can tick off each sculpture as they see it and answer questions about how many bricks there are to be entered into a giveaway. If they show their completed guide to the staff in the shop on exit, they’re given a sticker.
In addition to the LEGO® trail, there are LEGO® workshops running at WWT Slimbridge during the Summer. We took part in one of these, which involved making ducklings, vehicles and finally a short-eared owl that they could take home. Workshops are priced at £10.50 per child and have limited availability, so it’s sensible to book before you go. They’re a great way to inspire children’s creativity and use their love of LEGO® to teach them about nature.
Children’s activities at WWT Slimbridge
In addition to the lego events that are on at the moment, there are some regular favourites to keep the children entertained. You can buy bird feed on entry to the attraction and there are loads of free-roaming birds that are only too happy to take it from you.
The splash pad area is called Welly Boot Land and children can either wear swimwear or clothes during the Summer, or dress up in their waterproofs and wellies in the Winter. My two would happily have spent all day in there, although it’s only small it really holds their attention.
As well as swans, ducks and geese of all different breeds there are some more unusual creatures at WWT Slimbridge. We love seeing the otters and flamingos, particularly as there are a few baby flamingos this year. I don’t know what I expected a baby flamingo to look like but this wasn’t it. Aren’t they just adorable?
The girls also loved the adventure playground. Slides, climbing equipment and swings are laid out on a safe surface to prevent any slips and falls from hurting too much. Near to the playground is the canoe safari. We decided against going on this because the canoes are strangely only for three people, and boat hire is £7 for an hour. Whilst this is entirely reasonable, it would have worked out at £14 for us because we would have needed two boats for a family of four.
The wetlands and bird hides at WWT Slimbridge
On a previous visit, we took a picnic and sat in the bird hide to eat it. This was such a lovely way to keep the girls engaged in watching the wildlife. The wild birds kept them occupied while they ate their lunch and we were able to spend more time in the hide than we would have done otherwise. This time with the girls being a little older, we didn’t manage to bring a picnic but still spent a few minutes bird watching from the hides. If I was at WWT Slimbridge without the children, I’d happily spend all day in the hides because they’re utterly fascinating.
As we didn’t bring a picnic this time, we headed to the cafe for lunch. Food was relatively reasonably priced and all very tasty. I had a salad and made the mistake of not having bread or anything with it. It wasn’t that filling on its own but incredibly tasty. The girls loved their children’s lunch boxes, each choosing different items.
WWT Slimbridge – the verdict
As you can tell, this is a day out that we’re really fond of as a family. We missed out on the Toad Hall amphibian talks this time, and I’d also love to go on a guided walk to learn more about the centre’s wildlife. More information on activities and events is available on their website.
Whilst the cafe was lovely, I think we’ll be back to bringing a picnic next time. I missed being able to spend a longer period of time in the hides. This year, Kingfishers are around so visitors are encouraged to keep quiet for the chance of seeing one. Maybe that will never happen if I’m visiting with rather chatty children, but I’m willing to give it another try.