PLEASE NOTE: Due to Government Guidance in relation to Covid-19, we have introduced an online booking system to help us manage visitor numbers. Unfortunately, if you don't book a ticket you will be turned away. To book your ticket, please click the button below.
Donna Nook National Nature Reserve
Donna Nook covers more than 10km (6.25 miles) of coastline between Grainthorpe Haven in the north and Saltfleet in the south where it borders the Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe National Nature Reserve. Every November and December, grey seals come to the Donna Nook coastline to give birth to their pups near the sand dunes; a wildlife spectacle which attracts visitors from across the UK.
Visitors should be aware that the Ministry of Defence still maintains part of the area as a bombing target range and under no circumstances should anyone enter the bombing area when red flags are flying. However, most of the dune area is accessible at all times.
For our weekly seal count, please click the button below.
Know before you go
Due to Government Guidance in relation to Covid-19, we have introduced an online booking system to help us manage visitor numbers. Unfortunately, if you don't book you will be turned away. You can book your ticket here.
Seal Season - October to December
- Main car park
- Stonebridge car park for Blue Badge holders or members of the public NOT wishing to access the viewing area
- Interpretation boards
- Due to Covid-19, no toilets will be provided this year
Rest of the year - January to October
- Stonebridge car park with limited disabled parking bays
- Nearest toilets in North Somercotes (see map) - currently closed due to Covid-19
Dogs are not permitted on the seal viewing area.
Seals can carry infectious diseases like Leptospirosis and Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV) which are harmful to dogs.
There is easy access to the viewing area from the Stonebridge car park which is signposted as blue badge holders only. From the main car park, the viewing area is accessed over the sand dunes which is unsuitable for wheelchairs and some pushchairs.
Reserve open all year.
Seal viewing area and facilities are seasonal, and are open this year from Saturday 24 October 2020. Visiting will be for ticket holders only. Whether you are visiting on foot or by car, you need to book a ticket for one of our time slots. You can book your ticket here.
For your own safety and to reduce disturbance to the seals, please follow these guidelines:
- Stay within the viewing area behind the fence
- Strictly observe all red flag and other bombing range warnings
- Never feed or pet the seals
- No unaccompanied children
- No dogs
- No flash photography
- Please be considerate when visiting, park only in designated areas
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we will not be facilitating any group visits this year.
The main car park (orange) is privately operated and charges £10 per car on a weekend, and £7.50 per car on a weekday. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, only those with a pre-booked ticket will be permitted into the seal viewing area. You can book your ticket here.
Stonebridge car park (green) is maintained by the Environment Agency and is for Blue Badge holders only or visitors not wishing to access the seal viewing area. When booking your ticket, choose the Blue Badge holder 'add-on' ticket and show this on arrival alongside your Badge.
The Seal Viewing Area (marked in red) can be accessed from both car parks. Please follow the one-way system.
Formal traffic management will be in place on the busiest weekends (7-8 Nov, 14-15 Nov, 21-22 Nov, 28-29 Nov, 5-6 Dec, 12-13 Dec) with official traffic personnel on site. They will enforce:
- A one-way system
- No stopping
- Speed restriction
- Blue Badge holders in the designated (Stonebridge) car park
Location and contact details
Donna Nook National Nature Reserve
Please note, this postcode is for the nearest registered address as we are unable to get postcodes for nature reserves.
OS Map Reference: TF 422 998
Contact number: 01507 526667
Contact email: email@example.com
Viewing seals at Donna Nook
The viewing area is open from late October to December (depending on seal numbers) and is at the foot of the sand dunes which acts to reduce disturbance to the seals and ensures the safety of visitors.
Seals are large predators and are very powerful. They can move surprisingly quickly and, having teeth similar to a dog, can inflict a nasty bite – including the pups.
Mothers with pups can be very protective and male bulls can be aggressive. A mother seal may abandon her pup if it smells of humans or dogs.
Habitats and species
The reserve is made up of sand dunes, slacks and inter-tidal areas. Deposition of material from the River Humber has resulted in mudflats and saltings, and dunes bordering saltmarshes allowing interesting plant communities to flourish. Plant life includes sea-buckthorn whose berries attract large numbers of fieldfare, redwing and starling in the winter.
Probably most famously, Donna Nook is home to a colony of grey seals during the winter months where they come onto the Lincolnshire beaches to breed. Britain has about 40% of the world population of grey seals and it's becoming an increasingly important habitat.
It's not all about the seals at Donna Nook! The reserve is also known for it's array of bird life.
The area is famous for more uncommon passage migrants and rarities with over 250 species recorded in total including snow bunting, redshank, lapwing and large colonies of tern during the summer months.
Keep in touch
Follow our Donna Nook Warden on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, events and seal records, or search for a nearby event.