An afternoon at Washington Wetlands Centre

An afternoon at Washington Wetlands Centre

We visited the Washington Wetlands Trust Centre recently, and I can recommend it for a day out with a toddler. We enjoyed seeing and feeding the birds, and otters. The boys especially loved the outdoor play area.
Entrance to Washington Wetlands Centre costs £10.40 for adults (giftaided), and £5.25 for children aged four to 16. Children under the age of 4 are free. Family tickets are available. You can get 10% off ticket prices if you buy online, and the tickets are valid for 6 months from purchase. Even if you weren’t sure when you might visit Washington Wetlands you could buy in advance knowing you’d got a cheaper ticket than on the door.

Our day out at Washington Wetlands Centre

I will declare at this point that the main purpose for our day out was for a run around in the outdoors. We’d intended to go somewhere else but Noah is being a rascal with his car seatbelt, so we had to cut our drive short. So James was particularly keen during our time at the Wetlands to go to the park. It had a bit of an impact on the activities we took part in – not too much – but if I had been intending to blog about the place I’d have tried to see a bit more of what there was on offer, in order to tell you about it.
We were welcomed at the entrance by a member of staff who showed us a 3D map of the grounds. He explained some highlights of the various walking routes; for example, there are flamingos, otters, and a lovely play area. Here I bought a bag of bird seed for later (£1). We were also informed of the times of special talks at the various enclosures.
Sadly (for me and you), we didn’t get to watch any of those due to the play area being the main draw today. We chose to walk the inner circuit, which is roughly half a mile long, and so perfect for little toddling legs.

Feeding the birds

At Washington Wetlands there are loads of different species of birds, some of which you can feed seed from your hands. There are little enclosures where you can stand with palm outstretched, and geese will come and gobble them off little hands.

At the moment, if you are planning on going to Washington Wetlands, you definitely need to take your wellies. Especially if you think your kids might go “off piste” as some of the grassed areas near to the enclosures are boggy. In February half term, the Puddle Jumping Championships will be held at Washington Wetlands. James is very excited about this already, ever since he heard about it he’s been telling everyone about it!


Washington Wetlands has a colony of flamingos
I’ve not been to Washington Wetlands before, but that flamingo enclosure looks really familiar to me. As I didn’t have my “big camera” I’m afraid this photo of the flamingos from a distance is the best you’ll get from me today.


The otters are lots of fun, and very active. One of them was carrying around a page from the visitor brochure, and the others all fancied a read too. They’re very sweet to watch, and Noah really liked seeing them jump in the water areas in their enclosure.
From the otter hide, you can see the otters playing, and also peek through the window when they jump into their bedroom in the shed.

Around the Centre there are a few instruments made of wood, which my two enjoyed trying to play. The beaters were a bit heavy for them so until they realised they could work together, they were both a bit frustrated!


On to the main event: the playground. We visited on the last day of December, so the water play was drained and switched off. The water in the play area must have been rainfall, and there was enough to be able to use the equipment in the way it was intended. James loved turning the screw to get the water up, then bossing other children into opening the dam gates for the water to flow back down the hill.
Meanwhile, Noah explored the swing and the sheep/cow/animal before having a go at running into the wooded area nearby. I don’t know what caught his eye but he was keen to explore there for a bit before going back to see what James was up to. There are also two lovely, wide slides for kids to come down together, as well as a brilliant climbing frame that James (4) could manage by himself.

Inside the Centre

When the sun had nearly gone down I managed to get them over to the hand wash area before heading inside for a snack in the café. A muffin and a coffee set me back just less than a fiver. The muffin was big enough for us all to share.
There is also an indoor play area at Washington Wetlands, which the boys also enjoyed, though we didn’t explore too much of this.

We spent just a bit more than 3 hours here. We definitely haven’t done a full visit though, so we’ll have to revisit soon.

Have you been to a Wetlands Trust Centre? What did you think?


Country Kids



  1. January 3, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    Wow it lools like a bargain day out – I’m with James and LOVE the sound of the puddle jumping championships. I’m going to try and visit over February Half term I think x

  2. January 4, 2017 / 12:41 am

    I haven’t been to Washington Wetlands for years, I love the sound of the puddle jumping competitions though. I think we’ll visit for that, I might just need to invest in a toddler waterproof onesie beforehand though as I don’t think just wellies will cut it.

    • babyfoote
      January 7, 2017 / 3:42 pm

      There were some in Morrisons when we were there earlier this week!

  3. January 4, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    I used to go there a lot as a child but haven’t managed to take the girls. just always slips out of my mind when i’m thinking of places to go. Also Imogen has a bit of a fear of birds so not sure if she’d be that keen! It’s mainly pigeons that she hates though…

    • babyfoote
      January 7, 2017 / 3:43 pm

      There were some pigeons there, chancing their arm with getting some bird seeds! Maybe not the place for Imogen!

  4. January 7, 2017 / 3:22 pm

    the wetlands looks like a great choice for a day out, especially if it is not too far to travel as this is always a consideration with toddlers. I love the look of that water play feature. Rainwater is just the ticket to operate it. I’m pinning this as something to look out for for Coombe Mill. In fact the whole play area looks like a big draw, I can see why you struggled to do the rest of the walk. Personally I’m totally sold on the flamingos, they are such pretty birds, I could watch them for hours.

    Thank you for joining me for the 1st #CountryKids of 2017

  5. January 7, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    Puddle Jumping Championships?! That’s amazing, can’t wait to read your post about that in Feb. The wetlands looks amazing, we must try and visit x #CountryKids

  6. January 7, 2017 / 6:18 pm

    That looks like a great place to explore, Monkey would love the puddle jumping too if we lived closer. The water park looks fab #CountryKids

  7. January 9, 2017 / 12:18 pm

    Oh wow, a puddle jumping competition?!! SOunds amazing! The wetlands looks like a lovely place, I think its really tricky finding suitable places in the winter for little ones when everywhere is so damp and cold but looks like the play area was a big hit for you all! #daysoutwithatoddler

  8. January 11, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    We love Washington Wetlands. It’s a great day out but I do find it a bit expensive for a family when there aren’t offers on. Puddle jumping championships sound great! We didn’t get to see the otters last time because they were getting night with it! #daysoutwithatoddler

  9. January 12, 2017 / 10:14 pm

    The play area looks like amazing! Let alone with all the animals too, looks like a great day out.

  10. January 27, 2017 / 8:46 pm

    Looks like a fun day out. I can’t think when I last saw otters, so just to watch them running about would be a great experience. A good play area makes a huge difference. Good to see some decent musical logs as well – they are rare! #daysoutwithatoddler

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: