Seal pup at Donna Nook Seal Colony in Lincolnshire

United Kingdom Wildlife

Donna Nook Seal Colony – the Best time to visit

Donna Nook Seal Colony is in Lincolnshire on the coast of the North Sea. Every year between November and December the grey seals come up on to the sand dunes at to have their pups. The birthing starts at Donna Nook at the beginning of November and is at its peak towards the end of November beginning of December.

It’s a unique wildlife experience, I’ve seen seals before, even recently along the Pembrokeshire Coast. But I have never seen so many as close at Donna Nook. Some seals are literally lying next to the fence next to the path. The numbers have increased each year and now there are over 3,000 seals.

I spent nearly an hour walking up and down, watching and listening to the bizarre seal behaviours. If I’d worn warmer clothes I would have stayed a lot longer. That sea breeze is flipping cold!

Where is Donna Nook seal colony?

Grey seals at Donna Nook Nature Reserve - Donna Nook Seal Colony

The seal colony is about 10 miles from Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire on the east coast of the UK.

Address: Donna Nook, Louth, LN11 7PD*

*Please note this isn’t the exact postcode but it gets you within a few 100 metres. Then there are signs so you can easily find the way.

When is the best time to visit Donna Nook?

The seal pups start being born from the end of the October. And the number increases week by week. Most seal pups are born in the last weeks of November and beginning of December (based on last year’s figures). And at their peak, there are over 1,500 pups. Yes seriously, that a lot of seals.

I read before my visit about how busy it gets at the weekend. So for a more enjoyable experience go on a weekday, if possible.

Where to park at Donna Nook?

There are two options for parking.

  1. The main car park at Donna Nook, which is free. I arrived at noon, one of the busiest times. There are not loads of car parking spaces, however, people are arriving and leaving all the time so be patient and you should find a space.
  2. Option 2 is an overflow car park that costs £2. This is where the only toilets are (portaloos).

Arriving at Donna Nook seal colony

Grey seal at Donna Nook Nature Reserve - Donna Nook Seal Colony

As soon as you walk into the Nature Reserve you start seeing the seals straight away. They are scattered in small groups, to begin with, and then the numbers increase. Some of them are busy sleeping, well a lot of them. But a few of them are busy feeding their young pups or aggressively warning off other seals if they get too close.

There is a path that stretches along the entire area of the beach, separated by a fence. To protect you and the seals. The path is quite wide and is wheelchair friendly so gives the option for everyone to visit.

About halfway down there is a small information cabin where you can learn more about the seals. It has the latest seal count each week. Plus other seal facts. You can also get a free stamp on your hand which entitles you to visit Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre

You might like to read 15 awesome wildlife experiences

How much does it cost to see the seals?

To visit Donna Nook Grey Seal Colony it’s totally free. With the exception, of the overflow car park which is £2.

However, there’s a small cabin selling a few seal related gifts and there are also places that you can donate money.

Becky’s Tip

  • Take some small change to donate to support the conservation of the seals and this beautiful area.

What to wear at Donna Nook?

Grey seal at Donna Nook Nature Reserve - Donna Nook Seal Colony
The grey seals have blubber to keep them warm!

After mentioning the cold sea winds you might already be planning on wearing some warm clothes. I completely underestimated how cold it would be especially as you’re walking slowing and stopping to take photos. Here’s what I wish I’d worn!

  • Wellington boots were a favourite or hiking trainers or boots.
  • Thick socks – to keep your toes warm
  • Warm trousers
  • Layers, including a warm top or jumper
  • Winter coat
  • Scarf, hat and gloves

If it’s raining then I would suggest waterproofs. It’s a busy place and an umbrella could be a bit of hazard plus chance are that it will blow inside out!

What’s not allowed at Donna Nook?

No dogs allowed. There’s a separate area if you want to walk your dog away from the seals. My advice would be to leave them at home.

The seals are not here to perform for you. They are wild animals, yes I do agree they are very cute too! But if they are sleeping, let them rest. It’s really important that they conserve their energy.

And here’s the most important one. Don’t touch or stroke the seals. You will see the reason when they open their mouths. These guys have very sharp teeth, even the pups. So keep your hands away from them. They don’t like being poked. And I’m sure you don’t want a visit to the hospital.

Touching a seal pup could also result in the mother abandoning it and if the seal can’t feed it will get weak. Luckily the Donna Nook Wardens are on hand to look out for seals that are struggling. But it’s so important not to touch them in the first place.

6 Top tips for visiting Donna Nook

Grey seal at Donna Nook Nature Reserve - Donna Nook Seal Colony

  1. Visit during the week. Weekends are busy at Donna Nook. If you have the option I would recommend a weekday.
  2. Wrap up warm, it’s cold down there – yes I know I already mentioned this!
  3. Take a hot drink with you. Great to warm you up once you’re back in the car. (I took my Sigg Hot & Cold flask)
  4. Snacks or lunch – depending what time you go I would also take a few snacks. These a burger van selling hot drinks and food but that’s the only option.
  5. Get your hand stamped to visit Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre.
  6. Stop off at toilets before you arrive (limited facilities on site).

For more information, there are a couple of Facebook groups you can join Donna Nook –  National Nature Reserve and Donna Nook – Nature Reserve Pictures

Where to stay at Donna Nook?

Would you need to travel a long way to Donna Nook Seal Nature Reserve? Why not visit for a few days and enjoy seeing the seals at different times of day?

Click here to check prices and availability

Have you visited Donna Nook Seal Colony? Tell me about your experience or any tips in the comments below.

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Donna Nook Seal Colony - Visiting the grey seal colony at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire. Includes tips on where to park, what to wear, how much it costs and other tips to ensure you have an enjoyable experience with these wild animals in the United Kingdom | Wildlife | UK mammals | Nature Reserve

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Comments (6)

  1. Ohh my gosh I am MELTING. Cutest featured image ever goes to you <3 I'll be in the UK for Christmas so I'll be missing the pups by a few weeks, but AHH I want to go so badly now. I even asked my boyfriend if it's anywhere near where he's from. The answer is no… but I'll find my way to the seals eventually haha. Thanks for the inspo!!!

    1. Ah thanks so much Christina, well glad I made you melt with the very cute seal photo. There were so many and they were all really cute. I was quite proud that I enjoyed the moment instead of taking hundreds of photos. Yeah, I think they will all be heading out to sea end of December but I’m sure some must still visit throughout the year. I might need to find out a bit more information what happens! I’ve also seen lots on the other coast of the UK in Pembrokeshire. Would love to know when you see them 🙂

    1. Ah yes, it was so lovely Anisa, yes I’d love to know what it’s like in Norfolk. When I was there last month I went down to one of the beaches and met a guy who said there are loads there. Maybe worth checking out now because I bet they will have pups too 🙂

  2. Lovely photos!! And nice to know they have an information cabin where you can learn more about the seals and get to know the the latest seal count each week.