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 NEW Low Barns Coffee Shop is now open and offers a range of hot food and drinks, cakes and snacks. Thank you for your ongoing patience during the renovation works.
The Low Barns Visitor Centre has undergone improvement works, thanks to funding from North Pennine Dales LEADER and the Weardale Area Action Partnership. The car parking lay out has been altered to create a pedestrianised outdoor seating area and the inside of the building has 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 was completed at the end of June.
We are hoping to paint the outside of the building later in the summer and there is more work to do to improve the observation tower. In addition, there will be some work carried out in the autumn to open up views across Marston Lake from the visitor centre. 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.
For our September meeting we’re going to be visiting and learning about the habitats where the elusive Water Voles can be found, and surveying them to discover how many are about! To book your place,[...]
24th September – Creatures of the Night We will be learning all about the wild creatures which come out and explore Low Barns Nature Reserve after dark, and make some night-time creature crafts for you to[...]
A fantastic opportunity for teens interested in wildlife. Join our volunteer workforce for the day and find out what it takes to manage a nature reserve. Morning and afternoon sessions available, either come for one[...]