The Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary is a donkey lover’s paradise and makes a great half day out.
Slade Farm is the retirement home of around 500 of the older donkeys. When we visited we saw Eeyore, who's in his late 30s. Donkeys are surprisingly long lived, especially when they are as well cared for as the residents of the Sanctuary. Some live into their 40s.
The donkeys all wear collars with their names on, so it’s easy to see who is who. Some are named after their previous owners whilst others have very imaginative names, one of my favourites is Twiggy – you can see her in the picture, she doesn’t look very much like her namesake fashion model but she’s a lovely donkey.
If you are interested in donkeys then you can learn all about caring for them correctly. If you don’t have enough space at home for your very own long-eared friend then you can adopt one that lives in the Sanctuary.
If you want to have a more "hands on" experience and get involved in caring for the donkeys then why not join one of the donkey carer days (link opens in new window) where you can meet the donkeys, spend some time getting to know them and help to look after them.
There's a brand new wedding service available from 2013.
If you want something really different for your wedding then you can get married in a formal garden room or if you really want to be different then you can have a donkey stable.
Call Claire Shapcott on 01395 578222 or contact her using weddings AT thedonkeysanctuary DOT org DOT uk for more information. (Replace the AT and DOT in the email address with the appropriate symbols)
It’s not just about the donkeys though. Set in beautiful East Devon countryside you can enjoy the surroundings just as much as the animals. There are five different walks, including a footpath to the sea at near by Weston Mouth.
Oh yes! Don’t miss the maze either - it’s a really good one. When we first went the beech hedges were still quite small so you could see over the top into other parts of the maze. Now they are much taller and it's more of a challenge to find your way around. [If you enjoy mazes there’s another good one at Escot]
Bring a picnic so that you can make the most of your time here. There is so much to see and enjoy, especially if you have children.
Many of the animals here have come because their owners have grown old or become sick and they cannot care for their favourite. In fact, that’s how the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary began in the first place.
In the early 1970s Dr Elisabeth Svendsen was left a legacy of 204 donkeys. At the time she and her husband were running the Salston Manor Hotel but Dr Svendsen loved donkeys. Her friends knew this and that’s why they knew that she would find a way to take care of the more than 200 animals.
Now the centre has grown to its present day size. They care for all kinds of donkeys and train owners to look after them. There are now centres throughout the UK where you can receive this training, which is provided by the charity free of charge to all that take part.
Because they are a charity and funded by donations the Sidmouth
Donkey Sanctuary does not charge for admission, although you can give
them a donation as an expression of appreciation for the fun day out
that you will surely have.