WWT Washington, A World of Wetland Nature on our Doorstep.
*We were kindly gifted free entry*
Sitting on around 104 acres of nature reserve made up from woodlands, wetlands and meadows this is the perfect place to let loose and explore nature.
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It has been a good few years since we last visited this gem in Sunderland, so when the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust got in touch to find out if we would like to go along, we thought why not! I couldn't believe how long it had been since our last visit, baring in mind, we live less than 10 minutes away.
The WWT is the perfect place for those like us who love to bird watch, but they also have Otters which are just a joy to watch.
We arrived at 10am and left at 3pm only because Toby had an appointment to get to, otherwise we could have easily stayed longer.
We started at the play area - Playscape, which is great and I would say it is suitable for those under 12. Elliot really enjoyed the water play. We then headed through North Wood, I absolutely love walking here, you get some amazing views of Penshaw Monument. We took our binoculars, which came in handy when we spotted a heron in the distance, Elliot also found a giant birds nest to sit in. We made our way around and followed the path which takes you through top meadow, across a bridge and down to Dragonfly ponds. The bridge can be very slippery, especially when it is wet, so please do be careful.
We sat for a while and took in the views and the boys went Dragonfly hunting, then we just followed the path along which takes you past some fab Bird hides. When we got to Paddy Fleming Hide we were met by a lovely man who was taking some photos of the birds and he happily pointed out to the boys that there was a very rare Spotted Redshank.
We then made our way around to the Asian Short Clawed Otters who were having lunch, it was great to watch them and I just find them so fascinating. By the time we got here it was Lunch time, so we headed round to the café, there's not a huge choice of food but what they do have is decent. Today we decided to go for the Hotdogs with crispy onions and a Pepsi each which came to £35. Slightly pricy, but we need to remember that WWT is a charity, doing some great work, so I won't begrudge paying a little extra. For the kids there's the option of a little packed lunch box with sandwich, crisps, yoghurt etc. Seating is limited inside but, there are picnic benches outside and in other areas.
After lunch we made our way around the rest of reserve, we really liked the Insect garden and even found some green shield bugs. The boys really enjoyed Hollowood and exploring the trees, they decided to go looking for wood loving insects and found a few spiders and woodlice. We made our way around to the flamingos, Elliot loved watching them. We had some bird seed that the boys had saved until we got around to Ganderland, there wasn't many birds there to feed at first but, as soon as they heard the packets rustling we were inundated with friendly geese, Elliot even made a friend who ate out of his hand. They were so gentle with the boys.
One of my favourite parts of the day was watching the boys' faces light up as they hand fed the geese, I also loved the black swan, it was stunning.
All in all we had a fantastic day, I have actually decided to sign us up to the family membership and we are really looking forward to going back again soon, especially throughout the seasons as they change.
What's on throughout Summer
We are coming to the end of the holidays now but there are still plenty of summer activities to enjoy such as:
Pond Dipping - 22,26,28,30 Aug & 2Sep
Den Building - 23 Aug & 5 Sept
Animal Tracking - 24,31 Aug
Mini Beast Hunt - 25Aug & 3 Sep
On the day of our visit during the Summer holidays we were lucky to spot
🦆Indian Blanket Flower
🦆Green shield Bugs
🦆Lots of bees
🦆Hairy Willow herb flowers
🦆Ancient Oak tree
🦆And lots lots more
Read below for more info
🦆 10 Hides/Viewing points, some of the hides have screens so you can safely distance yourself.
🦩Play scape play park suitable for under 12s also water play.
🦆Pond zone for pond dipping, although this was closed today
🦆Duckery, check out the adorable chicks.
🦩Chilean Flamingos, you can read and learn all about them
🦆Lots of other birds to watch and learn about including Eurasian Cranes, Black Swan, Coots, Ducks and various Geese.
🦩Insect Garden, we were lucky to spot some Green shield bugs today.
🦩Asian short clawed Otters
🦆Bird food available to purchase for £1
🦩Indoor toilets are closed but they do have accessible porta loos near the play area
🦆Handy spotter guides available free including Bug Hunt, wetland, Bird.
🦩Wetland explorer book for kids to complete on the way around, stickers at reception for anyone who completes.
🦆Daily activities, on the day of our visit it was Den Building
🦩Water Lab, which encourages water play
🦆Lots of Picnic areas
🦩Extra onsite cleaning
🦩Limited indoor café seating
🦩Limited number of entries per day
🦩Please email WWT if you have a Blue Peter badge
🦩Hand cleaning stations everywhere
🦆Booking is a must, even if its a free ticket it still needs to be booked
🦆Free parking on site
🦆Opening times 10 - 5.30 with last entry at 4.30 (Open 7 days a week 364 days a year)
🦆Step free entry to the hides
🦆 Most of the site is accessible although the site is on a slope, so some areas may be a little tricky for those with mobility issues.
🦆Wheelchair, Walkers, Mobility scooters all available to hire
🦆Assistance dogs allowed
🦆Hawthorn Hide has a large wheelchair window
🦆Wellies/sturdy walking shoes are a must, it can be muddy, slippy and wet in places
🦆Café open 10-4
🦆Postcode NE38 8LE
Prices vary so please check WWT website, however a family of 5 for a day visit would be £36.20. Memberships are also available and if I'm honest works out better value. A family of 5 membership works out under £100 so you would just need to visit 3 times to get your moneys worth. We highly recommend visiting throughout the seasons anyway. Don't forget to gift aid.
Check out these other posts
Family Friendly Things to do in Sunderland
Our Morning at Low Barns Nature Reserve
Our Guide to Durham Wildlife Trusts Hawthorn Dene