The Cornish Seal Sanctuary: A REVIEW

The Cornish seal sanctuary is the perfect day trip in Cornwall with (or without) kids. The sanctuary is located in Gweek, a small picturesque village on the Lizard Peninsula, in West Cornwall, just three miles from Helston.

the villlage of gweek, west cornwall
The Helford River, Gweek (Credit: Baz Richardson)

The aim of the Cornish Seal Sanctuary is to rescue and provide expert care for sick, injured, or distressed seals and other marine animals in need of help who are found around the nearby shores. The sanctuary then releases the aminals back into the environment in full health.

Each year, the sanctuary rehabilitates over seventy grey seal pups from local coastal waters and brings them to the on-site specialist seal hospital. The seal sanctuary is also a retirement home for some seals that would otherwise not survive in the wild.

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Our visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary (2020)

After a long lockdown, we decided to visit the Cornish seal Sanctuary on its opening day. The sanctuary is currently open from Friday-Sunday. Tickets should be purchased online before the visit.

My daughter hasn’t been to many attractions yet. First, she was too young; then, we were in lockdown. The seal sanctuary was the perfect option. I’d visited many times growing up, but it’s nice to have a different perspective.

As you enter the Sanctuary, you have to walk up a hill. The land train isn’t open at the moment. You’ll be rewarded with picturesque views to your right of the village of Gweek.

The first animals you can see are the Common seals. It’s an excellent introduction to the day and splits up the walk from the central part of the sanctuary to the convalescence pool. Next, you’ll find a variety of other seal tanks, a retirement home for seals that would otherwise not survive in the wild.

a seal at the cornish seal sanctuary
(Credit: Stewart Richards)
tanks at the seal sanctuary, cornwall
(Credit: Peter Hurford)

The Cornish Seal sanctuary also features several other species, including a penguin tank. First, you can view the penguins from eye level before going through a tunnel to see them underwater.

penguins at gweek seal sanctuary, cornwall
(Credit; f.c Franklin)

The Seal Sanctuary Cafe

If you fancy a bite to eat, head to the seal sanctuary cafe, which is located next to the penguin tank, just before the woodland walk. There is a range of options from cream teas and teacakes to Cornish Pasties and sausage rolls. Make sure you try the delicious vegan sausage roll!

The Woodland Walk

The second half of the Cornish seal sanctuary is a woodland walk. The whole walk has stunning views of the Helford Estuary and surrounding woodland.

Around halfway along the walk, you’ll reach the otters. You can then either turn back and walk near the entrance to visit the farm (best for pushchairs/wheelchairs) or carry on along a squirrel trail to reach the farm. I tried bumping the pushchair up, which wasn’t a good idea!

The Farm

At the farm, we mainly saw goats and ponies. My daughter loved looking at the goats.

The end of the farm walk takes you back to the entrance where you can pick up a souvenir before heading home (or do It all again!).

Once you’ve bought your ticket, it’s valid for a whole year! Overall, the seal sanctuary was definitely one of our best days out yet and a must-visit on a trip to Cornwall with kids.

seal sanctuary cornwall ponies

How do I get to the Gweek Seal Sanctuary?

The best way to get to the seal sanctuary is by car. The site is located in the village of Gweek, nearby the town of Helston. The postcode is TR26 6UG.

To reach the sanctuary by bus, hop on buses 35/35A from Helston and Falmouth to Gweek.

More Cornwall Attraction Reviews

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The Camel Trail

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How did your visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary go? Let us know in the comments below:

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