Our two visitor centres provide thousands of people with unique wildlife experiences each year.
As bases for our conservation and education work, the centres at Low Barns and Rainton Meadows are hives of activity. To find out What’s On at each Visitor Centre head over to our Events Page. Scroll down to find out more about our two centres.
Low Barns Nature Reserve
30/1/20 – further update: We’re pleased to let you know that Low Barns visitor centre & coffee shop will be back open from tomorrow, 31st January. Opening hours as usual (see below).
29/1/2020 **IMPORTANT UPDATE** Unfortunately our Low Barns visitor centre and coffee shop will be shut until further notice due to an issue with the water supply. The wider site remains open under the usual barrier times. We will update you when the issue has been resolved.
The Low Barns Visitor Centre underwent improvement works, thanks to funding from North Pennine Dales LEADER and the Weardale Area Action Partnership. The car parking lay out was altered to create a pedestrianised outdoor seating area and the inside of the building was modified to create an improved shop area and a large community space that can be used for education, meetings and events. The works began in mid-March 2019 and were completed internally by the end of June 2019. Plans to improve the observation tower and open up views across Marston Lake from the visitor centre are ongoing. As such, our fundraising continues and if you wish to donate to help fund the work, please visit www.durhamwt.com/low-barns-appeal/
As you arrive at Low Barns Nature Reserve you are greeted by a series of old farm buildings, over the 50+ years of Durham Wildlife Trust’s management of the site, these old barns have been converted and adapted to become Low Barns Visitor Centre. Also home to the Trust’s Southern Living Landscapes team, the visitor centre houses a coffee shop, providing visitors with a welcome cuppa, cake or some hot food while our team of ambassadors can give information about the reserve’s wildlife. Visitors to the centre can also browse our range of shop items, from a full selection of wild bird foods to volunteer made hedgehog homes, Low Barns is a unique shopping experience. Logs and charcoal produced sustainably by the Trust on-site are also available and are a by-product of our conservation work at Low Barns and neighbouring reserves.
0191 584 3112
Access: 9.30 am – 5.00 pm
Coffee Shop: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
We’re dog friendly! Well behaved Humans & Dogs are welcome inside our Visitor Centre and Coffee Shop.
Access to Low Barns Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre is free but non-members are asked to make a donation for car parking. Visitors are welcome to make use of our mobility scooter. To book the mobility scooter please call us on 0191 584 3112
Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve
Rainton Meadows Visitor Centre is set within 74 hectares of woodland, wetland and grassland habitats, all of which are linked through an excellent network of accessible pathways and viewing areas. The centre has a WildPlay area for children and is home to the Meadows Coffee Shop, a homely café which serves light lunches as well as delicious home baked treats. Also Durham Wildlife Trust Head Quarters, Rainton Meadows Visitor Centre has a dedicated classroom for indoor events and an outdoor forest school space. Visitors are able to purchase Wildlife Trust gifts and locally sourced products from the Meadows Coffee Shop.
For details about hiring Rainton Meadows Visitor Centre for your event, please visit our Room Hire section
Planning your visit
The Nature Reserve is open 7 days a week, including bank holidays. Christmas opening hours are published in December.
Rainton Meadows Wildlife Group meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 7pm at Rainton Meadows Visitor Centre. This month, we have Lesley Johnson from Durham County Badgers coming to give us a talk about[...]
Get out into nature, connect with the countryside around and notice the small signs of the changing seasons. Take some time to look after you on this gentle observational walk being mindful and enjoying the[...]