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
Low Barns Nature Reserve, Visitor Centre and Car Park will be undergoing major improvements works. Thanks to funding from North Pennine Dales LEADER and the Weardale Area Action Partnership (AAP) the Low Barns Visitor Centre will be undergoing a major refurbishment this spring. The project works in the car park begin on Weds 14th March. Please be aware that for the duration of the works there will be limited car parking spaces. The site will be opens but there will be works being carried out. A full overview on the works can be found in the Low Barns Visitor Centre Keep checking in on the website and social media channels for updates.
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.
Rainton Meadows Wildlife Watch children’s group meets up every month to have fun and learn about wildlife and wild spaces. Join us this month for signs of spring. £1 per child, please book your place[...]
External Event Run by Active Sunderland The Active Sunderland Wellness Walking Programme is FREE, fun, friendly, and a perfect way to help you to get more active and to meet new people. Walkers are advised[...]
An Introduction to Bird Watching Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve, Houghton-le-Spring, DH4 6PU Join local expert Keith Bowey and Durham Wildlife Trust for An Introduction to Bird Watching Ideal for the absolute beginner or for those[...]