Days Out · Family holiday · Travel

Swanning Around Dorset (Abbotsbury Swannery)

It was a gorgeous day when we headed over to Abbotsbury, I typed the post-code in and was re-assured to see ‘Abbotsbury Swannery’ on the map, so off we went, but here is the bit to take note of: even though it says so on the iphone map, it is not there! And I know this has happened a lot because there was a building with a sign on that said Abbotsbury Swannery that way, which, incidentally was the first sign down some very windy and extremely narrow (single-track) country roads. When we finally arrived, we drove right past it because the signage was facing the other way. Abbotsbury – you could really do with a sign on the other side of the road. We had to drive all the way into the village to turn around because the roads were so narrow.

A slightly bumpy start but it was so worth the journey. The swannery is a natural habitat for the mute swans, where they are made comfortable but are not enclosed. Chesil Beach is the backdrop to this gorgeous scene:

It was the most beautiful and peaceful walk through the woods I have ever encountered, as you walk down the path you have either a stream, a rook or a pond on either side. We also came upon the occasional old building, which dated back to the 11th Century, without little man I may have explored the history a little more.

As we arrived quite late it was almost their feeding time which is the big event and takes place twice a day – 12 noon and 4pm so we headed over for a little treat. My son went in and fed the swans, even though he was too nervous at first, once he saw all the other children feeding then he felt more courageous, and I was a proud mama. I love to see him grow in confidence. I thought the feeding was just for children as they ask you to have all the children line up but then they said, all children aged from 0-80 can feed the swans! I felt sorry for the 81 year old lady almost jumping out of her seat ready to feed them!

One tiny note is that there are no toilets in the swannery, only at the entrance, so bear that in mind if you have a little one with a tiny bladder. There are also two lots of baby change facilities.

The swans and their beautiful cygnets really were the star of the show, they made me feel so peaceful. I am not amazingly into birds, but I do like walking and this sanctuary was a delight. I was also very surprised by the lack of aggression and hissing that I usually see in swans. In fact when we feed ducks back home we always avoid swans because they are so aggressive, but these swans are so docile.  In addition to the swans the swannery has two mazes, one for children and on for adults, pedal bikes, a park, gift shop and a cafe. The pedal bike track could do with a refurbishment, my husband enjoyed it but it was too difficult for my 3 year old to even pedal, and I didn’t see a single other person go near the track the whole time we were there.

The cafe was a slight disappointment having gotten my order wrong and had to wait an extra 20 minutes, and when my hot-dog arrived it was in a bland/hard roll which was flavourless, it could have done with some onions at a minimum. The cake was pretty nice and they had a children’s park next to it, so you could eat your lunch whilst watching your little one play.

In the late afternoon we decided to venture over to the children’s farm, were given directions from the gift shop and headed off. 15 minutes of walking in very hot weather later, and it did not appear to be close enough so we headed off. I think they should put up signs saying how long a walk it is, because we were not prepared. The little legs were not going to make that trip so we decided to leave the children’s farm for another day and instead jumped in the car, and drove 5 minutes to the beach, not just any beach –  Chesil Beach. A note about Chesil Beach – it is very painful if you are wearing sandals, or worse, bare-foot. It is literally a mountain of stones, like nothing I have ever seen, there is not a speck of sand.

So the next time you take your child to the beach to throw stones in the water (aka skimming stones), have a thought for the poor souls on Chesil Beach, because I believe that every single stone that has ever been thrown into water anywhere in the world ends up at Chesil Beach!

Useful Information:

  • Postcode: DT3 4JG (the correct one)
  • It would be very difficult to travel here by any other means than by car as it is in the middle of the countryside.
  • The swannery itself is very big, requires a fair amount of walking and once you are in you are far from the toilets. If you decide to combine the children’s farm and sub-tropical gardens in on the same day (not recommended) you would have to limit your time at the swannery and you will need to drive to the gardens and walk for at least 20 minutes over to the farm. If you do buy a combined ticket, you can use the tickets on another day as they do not have an expiration date, so my advice is to spread out the trips to 2 days at least.
  • Opening times: March to November, 10-5pm.

All in all there were high highs and some minor lows but I have nothing but happy memories, and my husband loved the swannery above all the activities we did in Weymouth, so high praise indeed. Our son loved it too as he loves animals and was very excited pointing out all the swans and cygnets and exploring so it was perfect for him.

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