We visited the Washington Wetlands Trust Centre recently, and I can recommend it for a day out with a toddler. We enjoyed seeing and feeding the birds, and otters. The boys especially loved the outdoor play area.
Entrance to Washington Wetlands Centre costs £10.40 for adults (giftaided), and £5.25 for children aged four to 16. Children under the age of 4 are free. Family tickets are available. You can get 10% off ticket prices if you buy online, and the tickets are valid for 6 months from purchase. Even if you weren’t sure when you might visit Washington Wetlands you could buy in advance knowing you’d got a cheaper ticket than on the door.
Our day out at Washington Wetlands Centre
I will declare at this point that the main purpose for our day out was for a run around in the outdoors. We’d intended to go somewhere else but Noah is being a rascal with his car seatbelt, so we had to cut our drive short. So James was particularly keen during our time at the Wetlands to go to the park. It had a bit of an impact on the activities we took part in – not too much – but if I had been intending to blog about the place I’d have tried to see a bit more of what there was on offer, in order to tell you about it.
We were welcomed at the entrance by a member of staff who showed us a 3D map of the grounds. He explained some highlights of the various walking routes; for example, there are flamingos, otters, and a lovely play area. Here I bought a bag of bird seed for later (£1). We were also informed of the times of special talks at the various enclosures.
Sadly (for me and you), we didn’t get to watch any of those due to the play area being the main draw today. We chose to walk the inner circuit, which is roughly half a mile long, and so perfect for little toddling legs.
Feeding the birds
At Washington Wetlands there are loads of different species of birds, some of which you can feed seed from your hands. There are little enclosures where you can stand with palm outstretched, and geese will come and gobble them off little hands.
At the moment, if you are planning on going to Washington Wetlands, you definitely need to take your wellies. Especially if you think your kids might go “off piste” as some of the grassed areas near to the enclosures are boggy. In February 2017, the Puddle Jumping Championships will be held at Washington Wetlands. James is very excited about this already, ever since he heard about it he’s been telling everyone about it!
I’ve not been to Washington Wetlands before, but that flamingo enclosure looks really familiar to me. As I didn’t have my “big camera” I’m afraid this photo of the flamingos from a distance is the best you’ll get from me today.
From the otter hide, you can see the otters playing, and also peek through the window when they jump into their bedroom in the shed.
Around the Centre there are a few instruments made of wood, which my two enjoyed trying to play. The beaters were a bit heavy for them so until they realised they could work together, they were both a bit frustrated!
On to the main event: the playground. We visited on the last day of December, so the water play was drained and switched off. The water in the play area must have been rainfall, and there was enough to be able to use the equipment in the way it was intended. James loved turning the screw to get the water up, then bossing other children into opening the dam gates for the water to flow back down the hill.
Meanwhile, Noah explored the swing and the sheep/cow/animal before having a go at running into the wooded area nearby. I don’t know what caught his eye but he was keen to explore there for a bit before going back to see what James was up to. There are also two lovely, wide slides for kids to come down together, as well as a brilliant climbing frame that James (4) could manage by himself.
Inside the Centre
When the sun had nearly gone down I managed to get them over to the hand wash area before heading inside for a snack in the café. A muffin and a coffee set me back just less than a fiver. The muffin was big enough for us all to share.
There is also an indoor play area at Washington Wetlands, which the boys also enjoyed, though we didn’t explore too much of this.
We spent just a bit more than 3 hours here. We definitely haven’t done a full visit though, so we’ll have to revisit soon.
Have you been to a Wetlands Trust Centre? What did you think?