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
The Low Barns Visitor Centre is undergoing improvement works thanks to funding from North Pennine Dales LEADER and the Weardale Area Action Partnership. The car parking lay out is being altered to create a pedestrianised outdoor seating area and the inside of the building is being 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 and are likely to run until mid-June. During the duration of the improvement works there could be some disruption, but the site will remain open throughout. Toilet facilities will be available at all times and it is hoped that the coffee shop can also remain open throughout. If there is a need to close the shop or other areas of the site at any time information will be provided via the website, social media and onsite signage.
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 cosy, volunteer run coffee shop, providing visitors with friendly conversation and a welcome cuppa. 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.
Use your senses to explore new life on the reserve and cook some foraged treats on the campfire. Rainton Meadows – Home Education Outdoors Come to explore, discover and conserve at Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve. [...]
Calling all pond dipping detectives, come to Low Barns and join the search for the secretive creatures of the pond. £4 per child, £2 per additional child. All children must be accompanied by an adult.[...]
Come on a fascinating adventure at Low Barns Nature Reserve and discover a world of mysterious bugs and insects on our minibeast safari! £4 per child, £2 per additional child. Aimed at ages 1-11. Please[...]
Come along and join in with pond dipping. We will go and see what we can discover under the surface and follow up with some bug themed crafts. Photo credit belongs to Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION. £5 per[...]