By: Blonde Two
Childhood memories at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre
Childhood memories are funny things. Some slip away, others make a big impression. For me, my visits (with school and grandparents) to the Wetland Trust Centre at Slimbridge have remained strong. In fact, lots of my favourite memories of growing up involve being outside, and appreciating nature (not too difficult to do when your school’s perched on the side of the Malvern Hills.
My recollections of Slimbridge are of very happy times, which makes it strange that, despite passing the M5 sign for Slimbridge on most of our journeys to anywhere, it’s taken me this long to make an adult visit. We finally managed to go a couple of weekends ago.
Things seem smaller when you’re an adult
I expect lots of lovely people have done lots of hard work since I last visited Slimbridge. It was over forty years ago but so much of it looked the same to me. I can remember standing on the wooden walkway with my friends. Not noticing them but completely absorbed in the swans and what we were being taught about them. The big voices of the whooper swans, the individual beak patterns of the Bewick’s swans, and the strange grunts of the mute swan. I didn’t forget about any of them.
I didn’t forget the distinctive observation tower either (I think it was there forty years ago) or the thrill at watching geese flying low overhead. Smaller but not diminished in anyway by time. The magic of Slimbridge is still there. So much so that a visit in winter (the best time to meet migratory swans) is almost exactly how I imagine a visit to Jurassic Park would be. In fact Mr B2 and I had the same thought as yet another group of greylag geese flew low over our heads – velociraptors!
Entering into a wild landscape
Slimbridge isn’t a wild landscape. How could it be with so much access for humans. But many of the birds there are wild birds. At different times of year they fly in from all over the world, and come back time after time because Slimbridge is a haven. And what an opportunity that gives us, the visitor. To be able to immerse ourselves that way in nature. To have access to such beautiful creatures. To feel for a while, part of their environment.
Plenty to see
We were so busy admiring swans, tracking geese with our eyes, and getting distracted by flamingoes that we ran out of time. We visited one hide to gaze out at the wetlands towards the swollen River Severn but didn’t get the opportunity to wander further towards the river.
Walks around Slimbridge
If you want to explore further afield when you visit Slimbridge Wetland Centre (which you really should do), there are plenty of walking opportunities. Especially if like waterways. How about wandering along, through and past.
- The Severn Way (which starts in Wales at the Source of the Severn)
- The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal (an amazing feat of engineering)
- The Thames and Severn Way (canal links between the two great rivers)
- Frampton on Severn (beautiful village green)
I’ve decided I want to walk all three of the ways above. But also stop off for a pint at lovely Frampton on Severn!
Next time I’m going to pack the binoculars!!