I can honestly say that this day trip was one of the highlights of my year! On arrival, the first thing my kids laid excited eyes on was the super new play area – an enormous wooden climbing frame, zip wire and water feature. We were in there for ages – thankfully there’s a café hatch so you can grab a quick coffee.
After dragging the kids away, with the promise of returning, we bought bird feed from reception – £1 a bag. There are also feed-dispensing machines on the way round if you run out. Martin Mere is home to 100 species of rare and endangered ducks, geese, swans, cranes and flamingos. We ambled through, enjoying our children’s delight as they watched the birds and stopped frequently to let ducks nibble grain out of their hands.
In addition to our feathered friends, you can watch otters playing and swimming in a huge beautiful glass-fronted enclosure. You can also see them being fed twice daily (11.30am and 2.30pm).
We soon set our sights on the Canoe Safari; small rowing boats which you can hire to glide around the wetlands. This is also a great spot for a picnic as there are tables, a kiosk, a smaller play area, plus the opportunity for den building. Perfect if you’ve got a couple of landlubbers who don’t fancy the boats.
Though the literature says three in a boat, our guide was very accommodating as there were four of us (including two toddlers). After a safety briefing, we headed to our canoe, kitted out in life jackets. They even had little wooden paddles for young ones who like “helping” to row the boat. This is the perfect opportunity to recreate Swallows & Amazons. It took a bit of teamwork to row in a straight line, but we soon got the hang of it as we coasted around the mile-long reed bed circuit, along with ducks and the occasional warbler. It was absolutely brilliant. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The remainder of the day was spent wandering down walkways and alongside lakes, feeding more varieties of birds. This culminated in the Harrier hide which had amazing views. If you’ve got time and patience this is great, but there were some committed twitchers when we arrived, so we didn’t stay long with our noisy brood!
November sees the arrival of up to 2,000 whooper swans, migrating from Iceland to spend the winter in Lancashire. This “Swan Spectacular” is unique to the North West and, being creatures of habit, they all feed every day at 3pm – quite an event!
This summer sees the opening of a new Wild Walk in the wetland habitat, perfect for little ones to mooch through the muddy meadows.
The Mere Side Café is a good stop for lunch with a wonderful view; selling hot and cold meals, and kids’ sandwich boxes. And there are so many family activities at Martin Mere throughout the year, from pond dipping to Toddler Thursdays. Definitely one for your ‘To Do List’!Daily 9.30am-4.30pm (6pm in the summer) Adult £11.80, Child £8.70, under 4s free, Family £31.60 Canoe Safari £6 per boat, Boat Tour £3 per person Easter – October half term. Binocular hire £5 (from In Focus) WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre, Fish Lane, Burscough, Lancashire L40 0TA Tel: 01704 895181 wwt.org.uk