Frequently Asked Questions
Need some extra help? Take a look at some of our FAQs below and we'll see if we can answer your question.
Q: Why do you have to have a viewing area?
A: Over time, the seals at Donna Nook have become incredibly popular and thousands of people visit every year to see them. However, if it were not managed, visitors could potentially walk out into the seal colony, cause disturbance and this could put themselves and the seals at risk.
Mortality amongst the seal pups was rising alarmingly but has since dropped dramatically since interventions such as dawn patrols and the dedicated viewing area were put in place. We are sure people would agree with us that whilst we want people to enjoy this fantastic natural spectacle, the safety and welfare of the seals must take priority.
In addition, Donna Nook is an active military air weapons range and any restrictions and warning signs must be adhered in order to keep people safe.
We therefore ask everyone to please only use the official viewing area when coming to see the seals.
Q: Why not just close the viewing area this year?
A: After consultation with local authorities and other partners, it was decided that the best way to handle the situation would be to allow visitors to come to see the seals, but in fewer numbers and in a controlled manner. If we were to cancel, it is likely that people would still turn up and we would still have to handle the resultant visitor and safety issues anyway.
Q: How do I book a ticket?
A: Tickets are available from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust website – www.lincstrust.org.uk/donna-nook-bookings
- Have a read through the Visitor Guidelines, then click 'Book tickets'
- From the event list, you need to click on the date that you would like to book (circled below)
- From here, read the visitor information and then find the embedded checkout in the centre of the page
- Select the time slot you would like to visit, and choose the Blue Badge holder add-on if applicable
- Once you have confirmed you booking and provided payment, you will receive an email confirmation from Eventbrite with your ticket attached as a PDF
Q: Can I get a refund/transfer?
A: Once a booking has been completed, cancellations or amendments cannot be made. All tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable.
Refunds will only be accepted if Donna Nook is closed by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust due to changes in Government guidance or if inclement weather makes the site unsafe. You are also entitled to a refund if you are self-isolating due to Covid-19 or if the area you're travelling from is in local lockdown.
You can read our full T&Cs here.
Q: Is it one ticket per person?
A: No, you only need to purchase one ticket per vehicle (or party if coming on foot/cycle).
Q: If I turn up without a ticket, will I still be able to access the viewing area?
A: No. Unfortunately, in order to ensure that a safe number of people are in the viewing area at any one time, those without tickets will not be allowed to access the viewing area.
Q: Do I need a ticket if I come on foot or by bicycle?
A: Yes, you will not be able to access the viewing area without a ticket. We would encourage everyone to use the onsite parking and not to park in the village or nearby areas and walk. The cost is the same regardless.
Q: Is the ticket for the car park or the viewing area?
A: The ticket is for access to the viewing area. However, it also covers the cost of the parking provision.
Q: What do I need to bring to gain access?
A: You will need to bring your ticket with you – either printed or on your phone. Please ensure that your car registration details on the ticket match the registration of the car you arrive in, otherwise you will be refused entry.
Q: Where do I park if I am a Blue Badge holder?
A: Blue Badge holders should have a Blue Badge parking 'add on' alongside their valid ticket. Ticket holders should park at the Stonebridge car park at the top of Marsh Lane where there is an accessible and close pathway to the viewing area. Follow the signs for blue badge holders.
Parking marshals will be in place to help during the six busiest weekends. You will be required to show your ticket along with your Blue Badge to the marshals on arrival to the car park.
Please ensure you take your tickets with you to the viewing area as there will be a manned entry point.
Q: How much does it cost to book a ticket?
A: The cost is £10 at weekends and £7.50 during the week. The first week (commencing 24th October) is free. The cost is the same for everyone, including Blue Badge holders.
Q: Why is the first week free?
A: The first seals normally haul up at around the same time every year, and we would expect the first seal pup to be born during the end of October/beginning of November. The viewing scheme, staff and volunteers will therefore be operating but there will be comparatively little to see. We have therefore decided to make the first week free to access, but you will still need a valid ticket.
Parking during the first week will be available in either Stonebridge car park or the farmers field.
Q: Why is it more expensive at weekends?
A: The cost of parking has always been higher at weekends. Furthermore, we appreciate that with fewer weekend ‘slots’ compared to normal, visitors may need to make arrangements to visit in the week instead and the cost is reflective of that.
Q: Why are you charging this year?
A: In order to control the numbers, we need to ensure that people turn up at a specific time slot and the best way to do this is to have a booking system. We need to cover the increased costs of this operation and the associated provision of parking facilities.
Q: Where does the money from the ticket go to?
A: Visitor management for the seals costs the Trust a significant amount to run and this year there will be additional costs and lost income due to the absence of the shop. The money will go towards the cost of traffic management contractors, the booking scheme and parking provision. In addition, whilst there are a lot of volunteers, there are also paid staff - of which there will be more this year.
Q: Will the farmer be receiving the ticket money?
A: The main car park ‘field’ is on private land owned by a local landowner. The farmer kindly lets the fields be used for parking during the seal season. He receives no income from the field for agricultural use but still needs to pay his seal season employees and all the associated costs. A proportion of the ticket fee will therefore be paid to the farmer for the provision of these parking facilities.
Q: Do I have to wear a face covering?
A: Staff and visitors can choose whether to wear face coverings outdoors. With the shop closed, there will be no indoor areas which would require a face covering to be worn by law.
Help us keep Donna Nook safe and maintain a safe distance from people outside of your group, including our staff and volunteers, throughout your visit.
Q: Why will there not be a shop this year?
A: In order to keep our staff, volunteers and visitors safe, we have taken the decision to not run the shop this year. The space that the shop occupies will become a larger area for staff and volunteer use to help us maintain social distancing.
Q: I will not be able to visit this year. Can I donate to help the Donna Nook seals?
Q: Why are there only three weeks of dates on the system?
A: We will release more dates on a weekly basis as the season progresses. This is to ensure that the system is easier to manage, should for example, we enter another lockdown period.
Q: When will more dates be made available to book?
A: A week’s worth of additional dates will be made available every Friday morning beginning Friday 30 October.
Q: Do I have to buy a ticket if I just want to walk the dog nearby?
A: You only need to purchase a ticket to access the seal viewing area. If you want to access other areas of the coast, you will not need to book a ticket.
Q: How can you charge for/stop people accessing what is a 'public right of way'?
A: There is no public right of way into the viewing area. The land is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the path is a ‘permissive’ right of way only. This means that permission to use it can be withdrawn at any time by the landowner. We have worked closely with the MOD and have had their full support in developing this year’s viewing arrangements.
Q: Can I access the beach?
A: Donna Nook is an active MoD Air Weapons range and any restrictions and warning signs must be adhered to. We also ask visitors and photographers to refrain from accessing the beach during the pupping season as disturbance in previous years caused significantly higher levels of mortality amongst the seal pups – something we are sure everyone would want to avoid.
Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Dogs are not permitted in the viewing area as they would cause disturbance and stress to the seal colony. Seals can also carry infectious diseases like Leptospirosis and Phocine Distemper Virus (PDV) which are harmful to dogs.
Q: Are there any toilets available?
A: There are no portaloos available this year and the public toilets in North Somercotes are closed due to Covid-19 safety restrictions.
Q: Can we access out of hours?
A: The ticket system is only available between the hours of 9am and 5pm. We will not be operating outside of these hours. Staff and volunteers will be present and patrolling the site from dawn each day to ensure that the seals are not disturbed.
Q: Do I have to use the car park in the field? Can I use Stonebridge car park?
A: We are asking all visitors to the seal viewing area to use the parking in the field, not Stonebridge car park. Other than for disabled users (who access via Stonebridge), we are introducing a one-way system this year to help with visitor flows and social distancing. It is therefore important that people use the main car park.
Q: Why not create a virtual system for those who cannot visit or instead of running the event?
A: We have considered the use of cameras and other technology but internet/mobile provision is poor and the costs would be prohibitive. However, we will endeavour to create regular social media content including photos to ensure that people who are unable to visit can keep in touch with events this year.
Q: Can we visit if we are a family party of more than six?
A: Family parties and support bubbles, where the group size is greater than six, will be allowed as long as that meets with current Covid-19 guidelines.
Q: Can I book a group visit or event?
A: Unfortunately, we will not be able to accept group bookings this year.
Q: Can we stay as long as we want?
A: Once you have arrived at your allotted time, you can stay as long as you like but we would ask people to be sensible and not dwell for longer than necessary.
Please act considerately when on site.
If you can't find an answer to your question, get in touch and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as they can.
Tel: 01507 526667