Getting around our Sidmouth sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary has produced this guide for visitors giving information about travel and facilities available on arrival.
The Donkey Sanctuary rescues unwanted and neglected donkeys, and supports projects in 38 countries worldwide. Around 200 of our residents live at Slade House Farm, Sidmouth, Devon, which is open to the public. We have a range of walks around the farm with easy to follow walk guides. The walks around the main facilities are wheelchair and pushchair friendly. Other walks are a little more challenging, make sure you’re suitably wrapped up, with the correct footwear.
- A clearly worded leaflet is available describing the main facilities, directions, opening times, public transport and cycle access. The leaflet includes our contact telephone number, email and web address. The leaflet is widely distributed to tourist venues and Tourist Information Centres in the area.
- The information is repeated on our website.
- The sanctuary is accessible by car - just 30 minutes from the M5 junction 30 on the A3052 between Sidford and Seaton; on leaving Sidford follow the brown tourist sign at the top of the hill. There are 2 free electric car charging stations.
- By bus: bus stops are located within easy walking distance for the following services: First Bus X52, Axe Valley Mini Travel 899, and Stagecoach 9A.
- By foot: South West Coast Path, access via Weston Mouth.
- By bicycle: access via National Cycle Network Route 2.
- The nearest major town is Sidmouth, 3 miles’ distance; access to the sanctuary is via foot, bicycle, car, bus or taxi. The nearest train station is at Honiton, 10 miles’ distance; access to the sanctuary is via taxi. Accessible taxis are available in neighbouring towns, including Sidmouth, Seaton and Honiton.
- Shop-mobility scooters, wheelchairs and other equipment are available for hire from Sidmouth and Honiton. A limited number of manual wheelchairs, and one mobility scooter is available from the Visitor Centre at the sanctuary. Pre-booking is advised.
- RADAR toilets are available in a number of nearby towns, including Sidmouth, Seaton, Honiton and Branscombe. Keys are available from local Tourist Information Centres.
Arrival and car parking facilities
- Admission to the sanctuary and car parking are free.
- The main car park has facilities for approx. 200 cars parking on stone chippings, plus 14 designated disabled spaces on tarmac. An overflow grass car park is used at the peak of the season and for special events, providing space for a further 600 cars. The main car park has limited lighting; the attraction closes at dusk.
- The main car park is situated within the heart of the sanctuary with easy access to the Visitor Centre and main facilities. The overflow car park is located within approx. 200 metres of the main car park - access is along a tarmac pathway. Vehicles can be parked to allow rear access. The main visitor car park has a dropped kerb.
- Access to the main facilities is via even tarmac or concrete surfaces. All central walkways are wide with plenty of benches. Much of the main site is level; there is a slight incline to some areas.
- There are no speed bumps, or traffic calming devices. A cattle grid is located across the main vehicle entrance, with a side entrance for pedestrian access.
- A large format sign is located at the entrance to the sanctuary giving details of opening times.
- All signage is large format, clear with text and pictorial images. Large directional maps are located at 8 places around the site.
Main entrance and reception
- The sanctuary is open from 9am until dusk, 365 days a year.
- There is one main vehicle entrance. Visitors on foot, cycle or bus can enter the site at various points; the most accessible entrance is the main vehicle entrance.
- Visitors are free to wander the grounds of the sanctuary; many choose to go through the Visitor Centre on arrival. The Visitor Centre is open from 9am to 5pm daily from 1st March to 31st October and 4pm for the rest of the year. Walk guides containing text and maps are available for a small charge from the Visitor Centre.
- The Visitor Centre is easily accessible from the main car park; there is a ramp. It has wide, automatic sliding doors for wheelchair access. Benches are situated outside the doors and wheelchairs can be requested from Visitor Centre staff.
- In order to reach the Exhibition Barn there is a lift as well as 2 sets of stairs.
- All merchandise is clearly priced; many items are at a low level; assistance can be provided by staff. The centre has good lighting, a level, easily negotiable surface with a separate entrance and exit; pens and paper are available from staff.
Public areas - general (inside)
- Inside public areas include: Visitor Centre (see above), Understanding Donkeys Zone, The Kitchen restaurant, Video Room, Gift Shop and Dr Svendsen’s Hut.
- All inside public areas are located at ground level - there are no steps to negotiate. All have side-hinged doors. They are clearly sign-posted with large format signs. Lighting levels are good.
- In some areas, access is via wooden gates; some are fitted with specially-designed catches for ease of use.
Public areas - general (outside)
- Seating is available in The Kitchen and Video Room.
- Numerous benches are located throughout the site.
Public areas - toilets
- There are three sets of WC blocks; one is located in the Visitor Centre, one is located next to the main car park, the other is near the restaurant. All blocks are easily accessible with a wheelchair. Baby changing facilities are available in the Visitor Centre, non-slip flooring and facilities for visitors with limited mobility.
- Doors are side-hinged; one block has a cubicle with an outward opening door. Each block has a cubicle with grab-rails.
- Hand-washing facilities are designed for ease of use by visitors with limited mobility, with lever taps.
- There are 2 children's changing facilities provided in the Visitor Centre.
- The Kitchen restaurant is centrally located on the site within easy access of the car park; there are no steps to negotiate. It has both indoor and outdoor seating.
- Outdoor wooden picnic benches allow wheelchair access.
- Internally there are wide aisles between tables, the furniture is moveable. The wooden flooring is easily negotiable. The tables and chairs are of a sturdy, pine construction. There is also a number of high chairs for use by families with small children. The restaurant is well-lit with clear signage and menus on each table.
- Food is ordered at the counter and brought to the table.
- There are two separate picnic areas located away from the restaurant for visitors who have brought their own refreshments.
- A children's play area is provided.
- We have a range of walks around the site with easy to follow walk guides.
- The walks around the main facilities are wheelchair and pushchair friendly. There is tarmac, concrete and firm, grass surfaces. All central walkways are wide with plenty of benches. Much of the main site is level; there is a slight incline to some areas.
- Other walks are a little more challenging, with steep inclines, steps and uneven surfaces, e.g. the Nature Trail and the walk to the sea.
- Most signage is large format, clear with text and pictorial images. Large directional maps are located at several places around the site.
- In some areas, access is via wooden gates; some are fitted with specially designed catches for ease of use. On the more challenging walks there are stiles and kissing gates.
- Lighting is limited to the main route and car park - the facility closes at dusk.
- Dogs should not be left in cars at any time.
- The Donkey Sanctuary was awarded second place in the Dogs Trust ‘dog friendly attractions’ scheme and welcome well-behaved dogs but would ask that you keep them on a lead at all times.
- Drinking water is provided in a dog bowl outside the Visitor Centre.
- Please dispose of waste in the bins and bags provided.
- The sanctuary is a non-smoking site. Vaping is permitted. Fire points are clearly labelled.
- Staff at the Visitor Centre are trained First Aiders, several of whom are trained to use a defibrillator.
- Wheelchairs can be borrowed from the Visitor Centre. One land mobility scooter is also available, booking is advised.