A couple of weeks ago, we visited Washington Wetland Centre, just between Newcastle and Durham. We’ve been saying we’ll visit for years but, much like Beamish, we never quite got round to going – until that glorious spring Sunday. It was a glorious day, almost 20C, with nary a cloud to be seen. So we grabbed the essentials, including a snazzy sun hat for BabyVP and off we went. We drove down the A1 for a while, then came off at the right junction and continued driving for a while around dual carriageways that seem to link industrial estates. Despite occasionally seeing signs to the centre, it seemed so improbably placed. And it is: suddenly, in the middle of an industrial estate, you are directed down a tiny, bumpy track and then taa-daa, you’re in the middle of the wetland centre car park! It’s totally camouflaged, much like the wildlife it holds.
I’ll say now that it’s no Slimbridge (which is
enormous large and modern) but what this lacks in size, it makes up for in sheer density of things to see. There are plenty of enclosures to view ducks and geese (and food to feed them is available) as well as lots of different settings for birds that need particular environments. It was lovely for Baby VP to see, as she loves ducks/wildfowl. Our favourites were the trumpeter swans (the last picture), the mandarin ducks and the eider ducks. While they are our ‘native’ duck up in these parts (we see them very often at the beach), seeing them puff their chests out and make their Kenneth Williams mating call at such close quarters is magnificent.
There are regular feedings of otters and flamingos (when they’re not fenced off to keep them from the bird ‘flu) as well as tours/ demonstrations going on every hour. For older children there is a Lego bird hunt – and the Lego birds are actually quite impressive, especially the huge kingfisher. There’s also a small but nice play area on the far side. I think when Baby VP is a bit older, she’ll love it there. It was certainly a nice way to spend a couple of hours and not as painful to reach as we had envisioned. Whilst not the cheapest place to visit, if it’s to become a regular thing then a membership would probably be the way to go. It’s definitely a place we’ll revisit – if for no other reason than to sip lattes while watching the cranes :)