Living on the Jurassic Coast, we are spoiled with stunning scenery and walks to do with the kids.
In this current climate, we cannot afford to go away, so this half term we decided to re-do some of our favourites days out from when the kids were younger.
I cannot believe it has been ten years since we last visited Abbotsbury Swannery, but it is a place that we keep meaning to revisit and this is the perfect time because, not only are the newly hatched fluffy cygnets to see, but between 1st May and 30th June, kids cost just £1 when accompanied by a full paying adult.
Abbotsbury Swannery is the only place in the world where you are able to walk through the heart of a colony of nesting Mute Swans, in the Fleet Lagoon behind Chesil Beach and access is via a small gift shop.
At the entrance, there is also a cafe, toilets and a play area, which I strongly suggest you use before you go in as there are no facilities within the actual Swannery itself and it is a quarter of a mile long walk to get to the lagoon.
The kids were instantly distracted by a Go-Kart track opposite the maze, but were persuaded to the lagoon after a couple of laps.
Once through the gates, the adventure begins. You are free to explore the small cottages, with various displays and watch a short 10 minute video about the Swannery if you choose, or meander along the babbling brook, waiting for your first sighting of the swans.
The paths are all buggy and wheelchair friendly. Most of the pathways are fenced off, but there is access to the waterways which you should be aware of when visiting with young children.
We definitely picked the best time to visit, as there were both swans sitting atop their nests and gorgeous, fluffy cygnets to see.
As you work your way around the site, there are plenty of information boards up, explaining how the the Swannery was established by Benedictine Monks who built a monastery at Abbotsbury in the 1040’s and why the swans reside at the site due to its location and easy access to food.
The swans at Abbotsbury are all free flying as the lagoon is a sanctuary, not a zoo. There are no cages, however, there are some pens where the parents can swim around with their cygnets.
You can also see the Mute swans, geese, ducks and coots relaxing by the lagoon.
If you time your visit right, you can also help hand feed 600 swans at 12.00 noon and 4.00pm daily with the wardens, who give you a real insight into what it takes to look after the herd.
There are two walks that you can do, both which link up in the middle – the second one is more exposed than the first, so do be aware that you you are visiting on a sunny day, as there isn’t much shade.
Once you have had enough of exploring the swannery, you can get lost in the largest willow maze in Dorset.
The maze is designed in the shape of a swan and was surprisingly challenging, although you can make it easier to complete by following the clues.
There were lots of extra activities in the maze, such as a hoop-la, piano, chimes and mirrors.
Entrance to Abbotsbury Swannery costs £12.50 per adult and £6.50 for kids, although kids go for £1 until the end of June 2023!
Have you visited Abbotsbury before?