Newest Review: ... finding a tourist information place to get a leaflet about the Sanctuary or a book containing lots of local attractions as this will g... more
A hot day out at the Cornish Seal Sanctuary!
National Seal Sanctuary (Helston)
Member Name: Niall85
National Seal Sanctuary (Helston)
Advantages: Great animals, talks, views and general experience
Disadvantages: Some long distances to walk,
Myself and my partner visited the Cornish Seal Sanctuary last week as part of our 5-day camping holiday down in Cornwall. We were staying in Helston so this was thankfully just 5 minutes away. Finding the sanctuary was not hard thanks to my sat nav, but without one you simply follow the instructions to go along the A roads, then the Sanctuary is sign posted with brown signs.
When turning down the road to find the Sanctuary, it seems unusual because it just looks like a road full of houses and doesn't look like the kind of place to have a tourist attraction, but it is here! The car park is quite large and can accommodate a number of vehicles - we arrived 15 minutes prior to it opening and got a great space under some shade.
The weather that day was pretty hot, around 30 degrees. This made the experience more enjoyable than if it had been raining, but it did get very hot whilst standing in one place for too long. One of the feeding presentations was actually delayed because a lady with type 2 Diabetes felt weak and required a sugary drink (they hadn't come out with anything to drink, in 30 degree heat with Type 2 Diabetes - this is asking for trouble!)
Before going, if you are staying somewhere local it is worth finding a tourist information place to get a leaflet about the Sanctuary or a book containing lots of local attractions as this will give you discount off the ticket prices. I had a "Save £4 on all adults" ticket but then just happened to have gone to Penzance the day before and when parking, my ticket had a "50% off entry" ticket which was the best deal - prices for the tickets when I went were £14.50 each, so this got the two of us in for £14.50.
When paying you get asked the usual question of whether or not you want a souvenir guide book - we said no!
After paying and entering, there is a 5-10 minute walk along an unmade road before you actually get to the area where the animals are. There is a train available that takes groups of people to and from the entrance to the animals for the elderly, unable, families with young children or the just plain lazy!
We walked and it is quite a nice short walk up a small steady incline with some good views. When you get to the animal area itself, there is a small place to stop where you can buy drinks and snacks and sit down and have a rest.
Next to this there is the hospital for the seals - a few people were here disappointed they couldn't see anything, however we weren't because it means there are none poorly enough to warrant being in there!
The feeding times and talks were at 11am so we spent the first hour exploring the rest of the Sanctuary. There is a small farmyard animal area with some horses, sheep and goats which is quite nice, all the animals are named and their full history is on display on signs attached to their fences.
After this we went through a nice group of trees and wild flowers/grass where a bird feeder was located, this joined up to a field where there is a large play area for children with plenty to do and to keep them occupied!
Otters were next which is another walk of around 5-10 minutes; again this was quite picturesque, especially on a nice day such as this! Upon arriving the Otters were quite difficult to find because they were sleeping together under some branches. There are signs that inform you they are most active during feeding time which was 12.30pm and 3.00pm.
There are a wonderful collection of Penguins up near the seals that were quite friendly. They were all out and basking on the rocks next to their water so were visible right next to the windows. There are 3 viewing areas for the Penguins - one under water down some steps, another on regular ground level through the windows and a third one up some steps looking over the whole area - this gave us the best view. One of the Penguins chased a butterfly, this was funny!
After all of this it was nearly time for the Seal feed and talk so we went to visit their pools; there are some wonderful seals here with many different types on show. The talk at 11am started on the furthest pool and then made its way from left to right so there wasn't far to walk in between talks.
The information provided by staff was excellent and you get a real personal history of a lot of the seals giving you a real understanding of why many of them have to be kept at the Sanctuary and not released into the wild. One Seal was 42 years old and believed to be the oldest in the world! Many of them have real individual personalities.
Watch out for the Seagulls too - they know the feeding times and managed to get several fish from the Seals! There is even a Seagull with one leg who they named Eileen, leg bitten off by an angry seal fighting for the food!
The 3 talks and feeds lasted around an hour and were the highlight of the day.
After this we had to head off - a lot of things to squeeze in to 5 days so we drove down to visit Trebah garden which was a phenomenal experience! A quick visit to the gift shop on the way out - this had lots of nice local things but we didn't spend any money.
Summary: A great family day out, prepare for a bit of walking. Informative.