The British Wildlife Centre, Lingfield, Surrey
The British Wildlife Centre is home to the finest collection of native species in the country. There are over forty different animals on display…all native to Britain and many rarely seen in the wild.
Located on the A22 just outside Lingfield the centre is easily accessible from the M23 and East Grinstead. It's about a 30 minute drive from our home in East Sussex…but we've never thought to visit before. Having visited earlier this week the British Wildlife Centre will now be added to our list of school holiday places to visit!
The centre is laid out in a simple loop allowing the site to be easily explored. As you follow the trail around the centre you pass large enclosures where the best of British Wildlife reside; foxes, otters, wildcats and red deer to name a few. Most of the animals are easy to spot in their enclosure, which all contain elements of their natural habitats.
The children loved exploring the Wetland Boardwalk where they could spot a range of bird life like heron and egret from the lookout. Our lot absolutely loved stomping about on the boardwalks…although this wasn't the best technique for enticing the bird life!
The rear of the centre looks out onto vast deer park. From the lookout it was easy to spot a number of different types of deer including Fallow Deer, Roe Deer and Muntjac.
The Wildlife Centre is not only full of incredible native wildlife…but hugely educational and hands on too! There is a strong ethos of conservation through education with one of the highlights of any visit being the regular keeper talks throughout the day. These talks are well advertised and as the site is fairly small it's easy to make sure you're in the right place at the right time. We arrived fairly late in the day so we only managed to attend one keeper session…but that was enough to demonstrate how informative and insightful these displays can be. We caught feeding time with the Pine Martin's…and I might be particularly ignorant here..but I had no idea what these chaps were until our visit. I now know they are in the same family of mammals as the Weasel and are on the verge of extinction in Britain. Their keeper was very knowledgeable telling us about everything from their mating rituals and diet to their habitat and how they are being protected.
Finally, after exploring and learning about our native species, Pip's Corner allows little people to run wild and let off steam. The play equipment is all themed around British Wildlife like the Otter Bank slide and Badger tunnels. The play area is spacious and well laid out…with the deer park as the perfect back drop.
We had a really enjoyable afternoon at the British Wildlife Centre. It was really refreshing to learn about native wildlife that we can so easily take for granted. I found the visit as educational as the children especially the keeper talk which was particularly insightful and well informed. Best of all the British Wildlife Centre really brings home the importance of understanding how to preserve and protect the animals for future generations. Fun, educational and plenty to do…we'll be visiting again!
Please check the British Wildlife Centre website for up to date details on opening times and prices.