Important Information – Refurbishment Works at Low Barns
Our shop and visitor seating area at Low Barns may have to shut on 16 April due to the refurbishment work that is going on. It will be back open on 17 April. The toilets will remain open throughout. The works are due to finish this week.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused, but the refurbishments will provide improved facilities for all our members, visitors and the many schools groups that visit every year.
If you would like further information on the works at Low Barns please call Julie Anderson on 0191 584 3112.
Welcome to Low Barns!
Low Barns is a valuable wetland reserve and one of County Durham’s most important wildlife sites, located adjacent to the River Wear. The reserve has become important for wildlife due to the wide range of habitats including wet woodland, grassland, open water and river side, which are home to many different types of birds, mammals, plants and insects.
However, Low Barns has not always been a haven for local wildlife. Originally farmland, the site underwent sand and gravel extraction until 1964 when the area was given to Durham Wildlife Trust and restored as a nature reserve. In 2003 a redundant sewage treatment works on the site was replaced with a new reedbed habitat and a boardwalk which enabled public access with minimal disturbance to wildlife.
The site’s flat terrain and large accessible bird hides make it an ideal place to visit for everyone.
The Visitor Centre has a coffee shop that sells light refreshments, books, gifts, locally made bird boxes and a full range of bird food and feeders from the award winning Vine House Farms. The centre and bird hides provide a wealth of information on how Low Barns was created and the wildlife it supports. Screens in the centre show images from the bird feeding station and bird boxes around the site, and there is a display of wildlife photography provided by the Low Barns Photography Group.
Low Barns is a hub for the Low Barns Volunteer Task Force – a team of volunteers that manage the Western Reserves for both wildlife and people. The Visitor Centre is staffed by a fantastic team of volunteers both during the week and at weekends. For more information on volunteering visit the Low Barns volunteer website.
1st April – 31st October Mon-Sun & Bank Holidays – 9.30am – 5pm
1st November – 31st March Mon-Sun – 9.30am – 4pm
Free for Durham Wildlife Trust members
£2.50 parking charge for non Durham Wildlife Trust members applies
West Pasture Hide
The West Pasture Hide is used throughout the year as a classroom. The hide is a fantastic resource for people of all ages and is used for environmental education. For a list of dates when the West Pasture Hide is closed to the public please visit the Low Barns volunteer website.
For further information on Low Barns Nature Reserve view the reserves page here.
How to Get There
Have a look at the Traveline North East website to plan your journey.
The reserve is located west of Bishop Auckland, close to the A68. From the A68 follow the brown signs through the village of Witton-le-Wear, turning right at the Victoria public house. Once over the level crossing, the centre is half a mile along the road on the right. From A689 the reserve is three-quarters of a mile west of High Grange or simply type our postcode DL14 0AG into your sat nav.
Durham Wildlife Trust
Low Barns Nature Reserve
County Durham DL14 0AG
Tel: 01388 488728
Things to see and do at Low Barns Nature Reserve
Low Barns is a fantastic place to come and see a whole range of plants, butterflies, birds and dragonflies in a variety of wetland and woodland habitats. It will take approximately one hour to walk from the Visitor Centre around the 1.2 mile circular route which takes in Marston Lake, the main focus of the reserve. The paths are well-surfaced and wheelchair accessible throughout, as are all the bird hides and boardwalk.