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National Seal sanctuary - Great time at Gweek
National Seal Sanctuary (Helston)
Member Name: bookworm75
National Seal Sanctuary (Helston)
Advantages: lots of seals who don't hide and lovely location
Disadvantages: price [get the website 2 for 1] and no toilets by cafe
We were in Cornwall for a week for a wedding and because it was a glorious day, and we were out and about in the car, decided to got to the Seal sanctuary at Gweek near Helston.
And we were glad we did. It was great.
We actually found the place itself a little confusing to find. Although there are good directions, you're led through what seems to be a bungalow housing estate and you do wonder if someone has messed with the signs...don't worry, this is the right direction!!
There are plenty of car park spaces, although some of them are on a grassy slope and are a bit precarious!
You enter the seal sanctuary through a rather cramped entrance...more than 10 people queuing to get in and you find yourself out the door! We were quite surprised by the entrance fee and felt it to be a little extortionate at £12.95 per adult. To be fair, they were doing a 'special promotion' whereby you could pay £15 for an annual card which gave you unlimited access to all seal sanctuaries and sea life centres [I think] and 20% off food etc. We actually had gone to Morrisons the day before and picked up a leaflet about Cornwall which had numerous vouchers in and one for £4 per off per adult admission price, which was good. I actually found out afterwards that if you go to the seal sanctuary website you download a 2 for 1 voucher [valid until 21/12/09] so please do so, otherwise it's really expensive!
The park itself is relatively small and compact. There is a relatively short uphill walk to the pools or you can be driven there by a 'train' of sorts which is nice. We took the train there and walked back, because we didn't want to miss the Otter feeding session. When you enter you will be given a feeding timetable and these are worth going to. The otter feeding was good, but be aware there is quite a walk to the otters and you will want to leave enough time to get there. Also, there is quite a high glass screen in front of the otters pen and it's difficult to see over this; I'm 5 ft 3 and was standing on tiptoe as the screen was quite smeary and you couln't see all that much through it.
The seal pools themselves are well organised and there are plenty of seals and sealions to see, though there were no babies when we went as it was the wrong season. The seals seem very used to having their photographs taken, so you're guaranteed to see them, they're not shy!
The feeding and talks are very good as well. Not only are they informative but you can participate! I and several others got the opportunity to 'chuck a fish' over at the seals; luckily you get to wear a rubber glove! But that was fantastic, and it's worth putting your hand up for.
For lunch we had a pasty and a drink at one of the many picnic tables. I thought the pasty was reasonably priced and as it was homemade [you can tell the difference] tasted great. The bottles of pop were 2 for £2 which again I thought was reasonably priced given we were at an 'attraction'.
Not only were the seals great but so was the location. Overlooking Helston river, the views were fantastic and we couldn't have asked for better weather...and it is a place to go when the weather is good.
I would recommend this as a place for anyone to visit, but perhaps not for the whole day. I would wait until you get a good day though. And please visit the website to get your 2 for 1!!!
and the day before we saw 3 wild seals in Newquay harbour which was altogether a brilliant experience!!!
Summary: Great place to see seals in the sun and have a picnic
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