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Cornwall Off The Beaten Path: 38 reviews and 48 photos
The grey seal is the seal of exposed rocky coasts. In world terms they are quite uncommon, perhaps numbering about 300,000. The British population is nearly half that number, mainly in Scotland. South-west England is the southernmost limit of its breeding range in the East Atlantic. Nowhere is it found in large numbers, although about 300 may dwell in the local "capital", the Isles of Scilly. There, pups are born on remote and uninhabited islets.
On the mainland, most seals are born on small, tidal beaches at the back of sea caves. These caves are some of the wildest and most beautiful of the few really wild places remaining in southern England. Usually, they have a deep water entrance, and often they run into the cliff for 100 metres or sometimes even more. When storm seas run, then caves are filled with boiling, seething water. It is hard to imagine anything surviving in such places. Nevertheless, they do. And of course they are totally inaccessible for any hunters
These photos were taken in the Scilly Islands
Gweek is a tiny village at the head of the Helford River and is worth a visit in itself.
But it is also the home of the National Seal Sanctuary, which acts as a refuge and a hospital for seals in trouble, often baby seals abandoned on the beaches for some reason. The infant seals are nurtured always with the idea that they will return to the sea, and most of them do so when big enough to survive on their own. Some seals arrive at the Sanctuary in a very sick and injured condition, some are close to death. The dedicated veterinary team will often work through the night to do everything possible to stabilise the seal's condition.
Very few seals remain in the Sanctuary when they are returned to health, but some of them, because of their injuries would not be able to live alone and they can remain in the Sanctuary.
There are 10 outdoor pools, some equipped for underwater viewing - don't be surprised to see the seals watching YOU!
To get there, see the map inside. When you arrive by car at Helston, head for R.N.A.S. Culdrose on A3083 (signposted Lizard), drive along this road to the roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout (signposted St Keverne). About ½ mile along on the B3293 road, turn left and follow the signpost to Gweek. When you arrive in Gweek village, turn right just before the "Gweek Inn" pub and follow the signs to Seal Sanctuary.
Entrance fee is 8.50GBP, children cheaper
Phone: 01326 221361
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