Fundraising appeal launched as visitor centre prepares for major refurbishment

Durham Wildlife Trust (DWT) has launched a fundraising appeal to raise £31,000 to re-connect today’s young people with nature.

The Trust are undertaking significant improvements to its visitor centre at one of the region’s best-loved nature reserves, Low Barns near Witton-le-Wear. The Trust has secured a total of £88,000 from North Pennine Dales LEADER and the Weardale Area Action Partnership (AAP), as well as from the charity’s own reserves, to begin refurbishment work at the visitor centre. A fundraising campaign has been launched to raise the £31,000 of additional funding to see the project through to its finish.

Jim Cokill, Director of Durham Wildlife Trust, said, ‘’For more than 50 years our Low Barns reserve near Witton-le-Wear has provided a place where people can connect with nature and we want to make sure that continues. The Wildlife Trust believes that nature should be a part of all of our lives, but we’re competing against all the other pressures and attractions of the modern world for people’s attention.’’


‘’Low Barns is a magical and well-loved place’’, continued Jim Cokill, ‘’but the centre was beginning to look a little tired and needed to be improved to provide an attractive destination for visitors.’’


‘’We’re particularly concerned that children and young people are losing their connection with nature, with wildlife not only lost from the school curriculum but from everyday language – kingfishers are no longer thought to deserve a place in the Oxford Junior Dictionary. A lot of the work we are doing is to make the centre better for families.”

Beginning this week, the car park will be redesigned, making the site safer for pedestrians and allowing the creation of a larger outdoor seating area for families with views across Marston Lake.

Large glass doors will be fitted to open up the indoor space and connect it to the outdoors.


Zoe Hull, the Trust’s Head of Operations and Development, said: ‘’The improvement works will make Low Barns a real asset for the local community and a place that can host a wider range of events and activities for local schools and community groups.


‘’Low Barns will be able to play a much bigger part in contributing to the local tourism sector. Showcasing the beauty of County Durham’s natural environment.’’


The Trust has launched their campaign on just giving and they have information available on their website. You can find out more, and donate to the appeal, at


If you have any queries about the improvements, please contact or call 0191 584 3112.