We haven’t been here since Biggest Child was small. Tiggywinkles currently have an offer on Groupon so I decided to return and do a review. Les Stocker, his wife and their son set up Tiggywinkles in the late 70’s. It’s a wildlife hospital now, based in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, and it was fundamental in the reintroduction of Red Kites to the Chilterns. **This review of Tiggywinkles visitor centre was written pre-covid so some aspects may be different currently**
The main thing that you need to remember when you visit Tiggywinkles is that it’s predominantly a wildlife hospital, not a tourist attraction. It is not a large place to visit. I think an adult on their own could probably look around in about half an hour. With small children the amount of time you’ll be there depends on how much they dawdle and how much time they want to spend looking at each animal. That said, the visitor centre is very popular with families.
You’ll notice a lack of photos on this Tiggywinkles review. That’s for a good reason – there are signs all over the place and on their website saying no photos for commercial purposes. I don’t know if they’d count this as commercial so I thought I’d leave the photos for once. They do seem really paranoid about photos for some reason!
As you come in there is the hedgehog area, well Tiggywinkles is known for its hedgehog wildlife treatment afterall. When we visited there were no hedgehogs in there, just a lot of ducklings and a tortoise. There are a couple of enclosures that have got other birds in. The only one that had a sign was the enclosure with lapwings in so I’m not entirely sure what the other birds were.
They have a badger Sett as well. This comprises of a darkened room for the Badgers which has windows cut out so visitors can see (there was on sleeping Badger in there when we visited) and an outside area.
There is a large pond with lots of waterfowl such as geese, swans and seagulls. There’s a Raven enclosure, three aviaries for Red Kites (although only one is accessible), an enclosure for foxes and one for deer. In the picnic area there is also a small Tortoise sanctuary. Other than the various birds we didn’t see other animals except for two foxes. I think we were unlucky though.
There aren’t really any signs up about the animals which might have been useful. Some more information about the animals they look at would certainly help to bulk out the day.
What else is there?
Throughout the day there are various talks and activities going on. When you arrive you’re given a sheet with the times on. There was a craft session taking place on the day we visited. We went to go in when it first opened but it was too full so we came back later. It was a simple craft activity of decorating finger puppets but it was free and the kids enjoyed doing it.
There is a picnic and playground area at Tiggywinkles visitor centre. The biggest children were very disappointed with this though. There’s a zip wire, a small play frame with slide, a toddler and normal swing. They do have a couple of cozy coupe’s, some balance bikes and some ride-on toys. This is also the main picnic area with several picnic benches dotted around. That’s it. As I said before though, Tiggywinkles is not mainly a tourist attraction, it’s a wildlife hospital and the visitor centre is there to generate some revenue and educate people.
There’s a room with lots of wild animal bones in, including some dinosaur bones which is very cool. I’d not seen a mute swan skeleton before, but I have now! Only point of note is that all the bones are in glass cases, not particularly heavy ones. I’m surprised no-one has pushed them over yet.
There is the world’s only hedgehog museum. This is quite possibly the weirdest part of my Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital review. It’s a museum entirely dedicated to any and all references to hedgehogs! There’s a war-scape recreation thanks to the existence of a hedgehog tank. You’ll find stories about families who have hedgehogs as part of their family crest. Then there’s the hedgehog gutter brush, the “hedgehog” character from Star Trek, Sylvanian families, etc. I was expecting more details about Hedgehogs themselves.
Family ticket (2A, 2C or 1A, 3C) is £19 in spring/summer or £14 in Autumn/Winter. Under 4’s are free. Blue Peter badge holders get in for free (2 badge holders per paying adult).
***2021 Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital review update – They’re currently offering reduced price tickets due to reduced facilities***
Parking / How to get there
Parking – There isn’t a huge amount although there is an on-site car park. It does get busy during the holidays and there isn’t really anywhere else to park.
Address – Aston Road, Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, HP17 8AF
There is one female and one male toilet. The baby change is in the female toilet.
There is limited food available on site. They have a fridge with with some sandwiches in etc. Realistically I’d always take a picnic. There is plenty of seating, including some undercover.
Our Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital Visitor Centre Review
Smallest Child had a fantastic time and got really excited at pretty much every animal. The boys had a good time, but they were less excited about it all and they were very disappointed with the playground. It is not a big place and we were there for a couple of hours, including the picnic. I know some people have complained about how small it is but we had a good time. I do think there’s a maximum age to get the most out of it; probably about 6/7.
When I asked the boys afterwards what their Tiggywinkles review score would be they both said 4/5. I’d personally say more like 3/5 when I compare it to other places we’ve visited. If you wanted to make more of a day of it then you could also visit the playground around the corner, or the cafe in the Haddenham Garden centre has VERY nice cakes at reasonable prices.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook
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