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The Donkey Sanctuary

Muddy says: cute, furry, totally affectionate animals? Check. Cracking countryside location with views out to the Jurassic Coast? Check. Loads to do, plus a cafe worthy of a visit alone? Checkity check-check. Of course we’re totally smitten by The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth!

Donkeys children

You know what, I wasn’t just a bit impressed when I visited this place – I was really impressed. It can sometimes be a bit of an anticlimax when you pack up and head somewhere with the family, hoping for a full day’s entertainment, only to be back in the car again within a couple of hours, wondering what to do next. Not a chance here – plus, you’ll love The Donkey Sanctuary if you’re a grown-up or a mini, which is always a bonus, isn’t it?

So why do I highly recommend this as a day well spent? First, I’m pretty fond of the location, perched on a hillside on the South Devon coast, with glorious views out across the Jurassic Coast. Then, there’s the amount of attention that’s been put into ensuring there’s plenty to do while you’re here.  Don’t go thinking you’re just going to Instagram a few gorgeous donkeys; be prepared to get lost in a maze, follow trails and become immersed in the interactive displays.  Plus there’s usually some extra fun to be had during the school holidays (our Mudlet went absolutely mad for the Easter Egg Hunt earlier in the year!)

And then you have the Donkeys themselves, which you’ll find spread out everywhere, grazing in the many fields. They’ll nuzzle you for strokes and you can read all about them, as well as watch one of the displays in the main barn area. It’s fascinating to hear some little-known facts about these creatures and heartwarming to know that many have escaped difficult past lives and are now living it up near Sidmouth.

And, we need to talk about *that* cafe. Big glass windows with a view, really good food for all the family with lots of local suppliers on the menu. It’s a lovely space to sit and catch up with yourself, following a morning with the furries. Honestly? This is one of those places to get a whole gang of friends together for; relaxed, feel-good fun.

(Photography: Matt Austin)

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Devon