One of the beauties of living in England is the natural habitats we can visit, allowing us to educate ourselves about the conservation of wildlife. Taking students to visit these superb reserves allows them to get up close and personal with rare species of animals, flowers, bugs and much more. From coastal marshes to the lowland of bogs, Fussell’s Travel presents our five favourite reserves in the UK. Get your wellies on and grab the binoculars!
1. Potteric Carr Nature Reserve
Known for its wetland birds, including marsh harriers and bitterns, this mosaic of habitats provides stunning scenery and excellent facilities. Located in Doncaster, its new visitors centre has just opened, with a brand-new shop to buy all the wildlife trinkets and a wonderful tearoom with a perfect lakeside view.
Over 230 species of bird live amongst the low-lying land, with 102 known to have bred in the area and over 65 species breeding every year! From the new extension, further marsh harriers and bitterns have already begun breeding. This is the perfect time to visit the reserve as it is sure to show its true natural colours of plants and many of its inhabitants flying, crawling and fluttering around.
Top Tip: A late afternoon visit may provide you with a sneak peak of a starling murmuration!
2. Brockholes Nature Reserve
This superb reserve, owned and managed by the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside has had over 500,000 visitors since its opening in 2011. It’s based on an old quarry near Preston and hosts 250 acres of trail networks and hidden surprises, as well as fantastic views over the River Ribble. There are several little and big creature’s habitats at Brockholes, ranging from wetlands to woodlands, with a nook pool, a meadow lake and reedbeds- home to Warblers, Buntings and Water Rail.
This stunning treasure of the North is not only home to some wonderful wildlife, but it also hosts many events on a regular basis: From an open-air theatre with numerous performances, vintage markets, private walks and a holiday club! This stunning scenery can also be a conference centre, perfect for team building and educational activities, but most importantly there is an ice cream parlour!
Top Tip: Brockholes host regular ‘Craft Creative’ Drop-ins with a nature theme! Be sure to check their website for the next one!
3. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
As part of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, this land covers 1149 acres and is generally flat and low lying. The area also has historical interest, due to the military fortifications dating back to the 16th century. The trust are very hands on with this reserve. From a forest school to wild beach activities, The idea is for all students to participate in the natural world surrounding them.
Rye Harbour is famous for its abundance of birds, and its breeding colonies of sandwich, little and common Terns. So far, just over 280 species of birds have been noted in the reserve. There are also many vertebrates such as frogs, badgers, foxes and bats! Invertebrates you might spot include beetles and leeches!
Top Tip: June is an important month for bird breeding so keep an eye out for the new born ducklings and chicks!
4. RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve
From birds to bats and otters to beetles, Leighton Moss in Silverdale provides plenty to do, and if you are lucky enough you may even spot a larger Leighton Moss resident- a red deer!
Its home to the largest reedbed in the north-west and a selection of trails, one alongside two lagoons which allow the students to water wade, witnessing water birds, and not to mention fluttering butterflies aplenty!
There is always plenty to do here, including a picnic area, binocular hire, guided walks and seven cosy viewing points.The tearooms and shop will also help when you get peckish from all the birdwatching, or want to take away a souvenir.
Top Tip: Ask a member of staff to see the electronic maps- it can really help and be super interactive for students!
5. RSPB Hadbarrow Nature Reserve
Before this reserve, the great crested Grebe was hunted to the near point of extinction. The bird was hunted for its ornate head plumes, but thankfully this reserve is now a place of sanctuary for them. You can watch them in their courtship dances and at Hadbarrow you can see up to three of their species up close in a hide only 35 yards from their nests. The reserve is open all the time and even has free entrance.
If you go on a nature trial make sure you keep your eyes peeled for marsh and bee orchids which in summer add a vibrant splash of colour to the grasslands.
Top Tip: Make sure you visit the Millom lighthouse at Hadbarrow point. It was Refurbished in 2004 and is part of a local community initiative!
If you would like to know any more about our complete school trip booking service, simply get in touch. We would love to transport you to these beautiful wildlife spots!