Last we week the girls and I headed for a girls day out with my Mum and Grandma. We decided to head to The Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary at Buckfastleigh, Devon, perfect for spot for us to meet as its pretty much the midway point between mine and my Mum’s house. Willow was very excited to be spending the day with her Grandma and GG. Luckily being a half an hour drive both girls took a little nap on the way, resulting in high spirits and bags of energy for the day ahead.
The Sanctuary is situated right next to the South Devon Railway so they share a large car park, from here you can access a small play area, gardens and a river walk. We headed straight to the Otters and Butterflies, after paying we were directed into the Butterfly enclosure. I always forget how hot these places can be, but the butterfly enclosure was gorgeous. A large pond runs the length of the building with magnificent koi fish and turtles swimming around, surrounded by beautiful and colourful exotic plants. Not forgetting the stunning and wonderfully majestic butterflies flying around us.
We arrived just before the Otter’s feeding time so we decided to wander outside to catch a glimpse of the Otter’s enjoying their lunch. Around each of the Otter pens there are steps so that even the littlest ones can see in, they also didn’t seem too bothered about Willow sitting on the top for a better view. On the day we went there was a couple having an ‘Otter Keeper’ experience, this included them cleaning out the Otter’s homes and feeding them too. Unfortunately Willow got a bit distracted pretty early on as it was nearing lunch time, and Allana decided that she wanted to make as much noise as possible so we weren’t able to stick around for long, but we did manage to listen to the talk for a short while and watch a little of the feeding. We decided to have a quick walk around to look at the other Otters before heading back to the Butterflies.
The Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary only house rescue Otters, none of the Otters are bred in captivity and we could clearly see how loved they are just by the way their keeper talked about them and interacted with them. Each of the enclosures is designed in a way to give the Otters the best environment possible, each have a shallow pool of water whilst a few also have deeper pools for the Otter’s to swim in and us the visitors to watch them swim. They feed the Otter’s daily at 11.3o, 2.00 and 4.30 so well worth trying to visit around these times.
Being less than five minutes away, and one of GG’s favourite places to visit headed to head to Buckfast Abbey for a spot of lunch and a little wander. I have a real soft spot for Buckfast Abbey, we used to visit regularly when I was younger and its just so relaxing and peaceful. Both the Abbey Church and Methodist Church have recently undergone extensive renovation work and are really shining for it. You are free to walk around the Abbey Church, with just a few areas being tapped off. Before we entered the Church we told Willow she had to be as quiet as a mouse and not run whilst inside, and she was amazing. She spent the whole time tiptoeing around and telling us all to ‘ssssshhhhh.’ Considering you can usually hear her from a mile off this was proof of what a calming effect the surroundings had on all of us.
My favourite place at Buckfast is their little Methodist Church, the minute I walked in I felt a wave of peace come over me. It really is a perfect spot to sit, relax and reflect (when you don’t have a Toddler putting on a musical for you!).
We popped back to the South Devon Railway for the rest of our afternoon, where Willow had her first time on a ‘big kids’ swing and enjoyed a ride on a little Thomas the Tank Engine. She loved looking at the Steam Train and waving to the train conductors, who were all more than happy to return the waves as they left the station. She was so desperate to take a ride on the train however it would have been her first time and I know Daddy would definitely want to be there for her first proper train journey. We may have indulged in a cheeky ice cream and cake in the Station Cafe before heading back to the cars.
We’ll definitely be visiting again over the Summer months but next time it will be to take a ride on the train and to explore the Totnes Rare Breeds Farm at the other end of the track. We had such a wonderful and memorable girls day, I love having memories of days like these to treasure forever, especially as this one involved four of my favourite ladies.
Have you visited anywhere fun recently? Where’s your favourite place to visit as a family?