Abbotsbury is a pretty little village in Dorset. It’s got thatched cottages, cute little fudge shops, and it’s close to Chesil Beach. That’s a famous example of a geographic feature – a tombolo, which is basically a weird shaped beach. There’s also an Iron Age hill fort in the area. Wow, there’s so much to see! But other than all this, what is there for kids to do? Well, if you like swans, you won’t find anywhere else in the world better than Abbotsbury. Let’s take a closer look at that.
So, a Swannery is a place where little baby swans (cygnets) are hatched and looked after. They are absolutely adorable, but they’re not white like a full grown swan – they’re grey. This swannery has been going for 800 years, which would make it one of the oldest in the world. Well, it is, but it’s also the only one in the world! Because the lagoon is protected from the sea by Chesil beach, the water can be warmed up, making it an ideal place to raise young swans. The weeds in the lagoon provided food for the swans. As the area was occupied by monks in the 12th Century, they reared swans here, for meat. Nowadays, it’s a massively popular tourist destination, and if you go in the spring you can see little ones being hatched. Feeding time is at 12 and 4pm every day! There’s also a lot of other wildlife in the area, which keen bird spotters can see with their binoculars.
The name Abbotsbury has a religious background. It suggests that the land may have once belonged to an abbot, which is the head of a monastery. After King Cnut invaded England in the 11th Century, he gave the land to a pair of Scandinavian aristocrats, who founded the Abbey. Parts of it still stand, but it was destroyed during Henry VIII’s campaign to get rid of monasteries. Monasteries were Catholic organisations, and so provided a huge source of opposition to his rule.
In Abbotsbury, there’s something fun for kids, too. The Children’s Farm is in the grounds of the old Abbey, and inside the 14th Century barn is a really cool indoor play area. As well as this, you can cuddle guinea pigs and rabbits, bottle feed lambs, ride ponies, and even pretend to milk a cow! You can spend all day here, and not get bored. Trust me, I used to go there as a kid, and it was one of my favourite places! Be kind to the animals, though – if you play with them too much or do something they don’t like, they could bite you.
If it makes life easier, you can buy a combined ticket to the children’s farm, the swannery, and the sub-tropical gardens! It’s only £13, and if you book online beforehand, you can get a 20% discount. If you don’t live in Dorset, you can include it as part of your holiday there, as there’s so much else to do in this beautiful, rural, and historic county. But don’t just take my (admittedly, very trustworthy) word for it – see for yourself!
Image from: http://www.abbotsbury.co.uk/