The Donkey Sanctuary
Sidmouth is home to the world’s largest donkey and mule charity. They rescue neglected or badly treated animals as well as monitoring the well-being of working beach donkeys and providing advice on donkey welfare. They can also provide a home for older donkeys and those whose owners can no longer care for them.
The sanctuary is open to the public every day of the year and there are usually plenty of friendly and curious donkeys loving the attention from the visitors. In the main yard donkeys wander freely and around the farm there are walks amongst the rolling Devonshire fields where more of the 500 resident donkeys graze and come up to the fences to say hello. We particularly enjoy the walk down the valley to the pebble beach at Weston Mouth (note that this can be muddy and involves some steep steps down to the beach).
The Sanctuary is not over commercialised and there is no entry fee, just one small shop and a cafe with a sunny courtyard. There are trails and quizzes for younger visitors as well as a maze.
There are extra activities and themed events at different times of the year such as Halloween pumpkin carving and face painting, a candlelit carol service near to Christmas, and craft days during the school holidays.
Getting to the Donkey Sanctuary – by car, bus or on foot
There is a large free car park at the Sanctuary and there are also bus services from Sidmouth – the 52A runs hourly all year round and the bus stop is a short walk from the Santuary. From May to the end of September, there is also a free (yes – free!) hourly hopper bus service from Sidmouth town centre and seafront which stops in the Sanctuary car park.
It is walkable from Sidmouth (for adults and older children). In fact, we had a fantastic day out one sunny May Bank Holiday walking from our holiday cottage in Sidmouth along the coast path (with several rest breaks to admire the views) and then catching the hopper bus back. We stopped for a picnic on Weston Mouth beach, but, if you wanted to travel light, you could get lunch at the Donkey Sanctuary cafe.