Even though I live on the Wirral, I have a lot of friends and family who live in different parts of the country which means that I spend a lot of weekends out of the year taking trips to visit them which keeps me very busy. This last weekend, I took a short trip up the M56 to Manchester to visit my friend from uni, Stu.
Before the weekend we had decided to go and check out the Chestnut Centre in Derbyshire. Set up in 1984 by the Heap family, the Chestnut Centre is a small wildlife park specialising in otters, owls and deer. My mum’s favourite animals are otters so I have spent many an hour staring at these little creatures in zoos over the years; so I was quite excited to see the different species they had at the centre.
As we drove up the weather wasn’t looking too good at all, you could barely see the hills in the distance because of the heavy clouds but we put our coats and boots on and thought we’d just go with it anyway. Little did we know that by the end of the trail we would be absolutely drenched! Oh well, at least the otters were enjoying the weather!
By the time we arrived, it was nearly feeding time for the animals; perfect timing! We headed down the track from the restaurant/gift shop where we paid our entrance fee (£7.95 which I didn’t think was too bad) and ventured to the first animal on the feeding list, the pine martin. Now, apparently pine martins are very shy and solitary creatures so probably not the best to try and spot at a wildlife park but never mind! When we did spot him, he was actually very cute; he just didn’t want to come and say hello!
The next animal to see were thepolecats which look very similar to ferrets. Like the pine martin, they were being fed small chicks which was not pleasant but I guess part of the ‘circle of life’. I tried to get some photos but was struggling with my camera as by this point it was pouring down and all my camera could focus on was the rain!
After the polecats were a number of different otters, the animals I’d been looking forward to most. These included North American river otters, Eurasion otters and giant otters. My favourite had to be one of the asian short clawed otters, Pickwick. He was only a young otter and was very vocal as soon as we all got the enclosure. The keeper told us that his mum had left him and one of the keepers had been looking after him in her kitchen along with her Labrador puppy. As he had been socialised in this way, he wasn’t afraid of people and or to make some noise to tell us he was hungry! He was adorable!
After feeding time, we were getting a bit soggy from all the rain and my hands were freezing despite the thick gloves I had on; so me and Stu skipped the deer feeding and took a walk around the owl enclosures followed by a quick stop to see the Scottish wildcat before heading back for a hot lunch at the restaurant. A hot jacket potato was just the trick to warm me up!
Overall, despite the horrendous rain, Chestnut Centre was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours; I think if the weather was better we probably would have spent longer there but that couldn’t be helped. The scenery around the centre is beautiful, the keepers very knowledgeable and the animals fascinating. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.