Cheltenham Rocks

Dusty's Wildlife Rangers: Slimbridge Review

Remember that excitement you used to feel when it was the summer holidays as a kid? Yeah, well unfortunately once you’re all grown up it’s not the same anymore. Summer holidays now equate to no school, pre-school or toddler groups, therefore nightmare. So, what on earth are we going to do to entertain the little monsters?

Fear not, Slimbridge Wetland Centre (about 30 mins drive from Cheltenham) has you covered this summer with the launch of their new Dusty’s Wildlife Rangers. Included in the price of admission (£14 for adults, £8 for children over 4), the kids can pick up their Wildlife Ranger log book on arrival and if you complete 4 of the various daily activities collecting a sticker at each task you can get your very own Wildlife Ranger badge!

I feel as though I am potentially the only person who, having grown-up in Cheltenham, has never visited Slimbridge before. I was therefore very excited to get a chance to test out some of those activities. True to form, I was running late so on arrival The Kingfisher Café was our first stop for a scrumptious lunch and necessary nappy change. It’s a beautiful café, big light and airy with a great kid’s menu and baby food available.

Having refuelled, we then planned what our afternoon of activities looked like and there was plenty to choose from: Giant Nest (den) Building, Ranger Survival Camp (Bear Grylls for kids anyone?), Nature Detectives, Mini Raft Building or Canoe Safari. All of these activities are included in the admission price, with the exception of the Canoe Safari which is an additional £5 per adult (children are free). And what did Bertie choose to do…the Canoe Safari of course!

My mother sensibly opted to stay on dry land and look after Paloma as only over 3s can canoe, and I do think she got a good deal as she was able to sit in the nearby play area enjoying an ice cream whilst Paloma played and chased the ducks.

Thinking I’d drawn the short straw, Bertie and I were kitted up with life jackets, handed oars and off we went. And do you know what, it was brilliant! You have the canoe for an hour, with a brief talk beforehand about safety procedures, and a look at the map for the best routes - then we were on our own. Even though it was a busy day we didn’t really see any other canoes the whole time as we worked our way through the labyrinth of beautiful shallow water, avoiding the low bridges, ducks, swans, and scarily large fish(!). We had so much fun. I particularly enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t overlooked by spectators so no one could judge how truly dreadful my steering was.

Bertie was so overexcited by the canoe safari he was happy to spend the rest of the day wandering around the park feeding the birds (bird seed is £1 and can be purchased on the way in). Mother is a keen gardener so was in her element perusing the beautiful gardens, tropical house and ponds.

We finished with a stop off at Welly Boot Land and, despite it being a bit overcast, I packed for all occasions, so Paloma rocked wellies and full waterproof suit whilst Bertie was “more comfortable” in wellies and just shorts (a change of clothes is highly recommended!). The kids splashed in the stream, lay in the fountain (eye-roll) and generally potted about loving the freedom of being allowed to get wet.

On the way back to the car we wandered through Toad Hall to see some of the amphibian tanks and also discovered a little mini indoor playground for smaller children as well as colouring and activity station.

Fabulous day out for the whole family.

Hannah, July 2017

To find out more about Dusty's Wildlife Rangers at Slimbridge visit the Day Trips section >