Donna Nook

Donna Nook, Lincolnshire
Donna Nook seal colony

Donna Nook is a fantastic place to see grey seals in November, December and into early January, when they have their pups.

Donna Nook: the grey seals

Grey seals, Donna Nook

What makes Donna Nook so great is that you can get close to the seals. There's a low fence separating humans from seals, and it seems to be enough to make the seals relaxed. Some of the pups even lie right up by the fence.

Seal pup, Donna Nook

You're asked to stay within the viewing area, not to touch the seals, and not to use flash photography. Dogs aren't allowed in the seal viewing area. There's usually a warden on hand in peak season, as well as volunteers, to answer visitors' questions.

The warden also provides information about seal numbers, and any special travel information, on Twitter.

You don't need a long lens to get good photos, but if you have that option, I would suggest a 100-400mm zoom. Photos of the seals right by the fence tend to be shot from above them, but you can get some more or less eye-level shots of seals a bit further away.

Donna Nook: other wildlife

As well as seals, there are plenty of seabirds, including gulls, oyster-catchers, and little egrets. I've seen large numbers of Brent geese there, and a marsh harrier. You could see foxes too. Above the flat fields in the surrounding area, there are plenty of kestrels and buzzards.

Long-tailed tit at Donna Nook

Sea-buckthorn at Donna Nook attracts plenty of birds, including fieldfare, redwings, and starlings, as well as long-tailed tits. There were snow buntings at Donna Nook in January 2020.

Donna Nook: how to get there

Coming from North Yorkshire, I head for Grimsby, then take the A16 to North Thoresby, where I turn onto the B1201, then A1031 to Marshchapel, Grainthorpe and North Somercotes. Note that these are narrow roads which go through villages where you can expect there to be schoolchildren in the morning and afternoon - so careful driving is a must.

North Somercotes is the nearest village to Donna Nook. From there, you head north along a residential street, then after a right-left dogleg, you're on a single track road towards Donna Nook.

Map showing how to get to Donna Nook

P1 - this is the all-year-round car park, and is the right place to go out of seal season, and on weekdays in seal season if there are spaces. It's free.

P2 - at weekends in peak seal season, P1 becomes a disabled use only car park. P2 is a temporary car park set up in the field of a local landowner, and there's a charge of £4 on weekdays, £5 at weekends (2019/20 prices). The landowner sets up porta-loos, and donates 20% of car parking charges to Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.

At busy times, there are catering vans at the car parks.

During seal season, the Wildlife Trust asks you to visit during the week if at all possible, as it gets very busy on the narrow roads at weekends.