If you fancy a break from the beach while on holiday at Skegness, put your bucket and spade to one side and head to Natureland, a seal sanctuary with a small collection of other animals, at the northern end of the seafront.
The site incorporates a “seal hospital”, where seal pups that are washed up on the beaches around Skegness are cared for before being released back into the sea – to date, over six hundred seals have been successfully returned to the wild. You can observe the rescued pups through viewing windows, and in the outdoor rearing pools where they learn how to catch fish in the water before going it alone. There are also some resident seals, too tame to fend for themselves at sea, that live in a separate pool. Besides the seals, there’s a spread of other animals to see, including black-footed penguins, meerkats, crocodiles, pythons and spiders, plus a butterfly house and a collection of domestic animals you can handle and feed, including goats, rabbits and guinea pigs. Natureland was built in 1965 and, truth be told, is showing its age a bit these days. However, the seal feeding times are a real highlight (check ahead for times), allowing you to get up close to these beautiful animals, which you can also watch from an underwater viewing area.
Efforts have been made to make the site accessible: there are slopes either side of the main seal pool leading down to the lower level – the one on the right, by the aquarium, is longer but less steep. In the Tropical House, wheelchair users will need to retrace their route to avoid the bridge, and may need assistance opening the heavy doors. Also, some buildings are dimly lit, with uneven floors, requiring extra care if you’re visually impaired or unsteady on foot. There’s a disabled toilet next to the aquarium and another in the café. Note that there’s no on-site parking, but you can park on North Parade, opposite the entrance, and there’s a pay-and-display car park a couple of hundred yards further up the road. Dogs are welcome, but they must be kept on a lead at all times.
Food & drink: Between April and October, the on-site Blue Lagoon café-restaurant serves hot and cold meals, and a range of sandwiches and cakes. During other months, it’s open for drinks only.