Get a glimpse of our fantastic wildlife and enjoy the fresh air at one of the many nature reserves and country parks. Please ensure you help to safeguard our wildlife by keeping dogs on leads and staying on official paths.

Photograph by Gary Solomon

Barnes Meadow

The three meadows along the Nene include a wide range of grassland and wetland, recently created to broaden the range of habitats. There are many species of birds such as snipe, herons, kingfishers, great crested grebes and terns.

Ditchford Lakes and Meadows Nature Reserve

Part of the upper Nene valley floodplain, this complex of gravel pits, grassland and scrub is important for breeding and wintering birds. In spring and summer the meadows have a rich collection of wet meadow plants.

Titchmarsh Nature Reserve

The 73 hectares of lakes, woodland, river bank, grass and scrub are a result of gravel extraction and an ideal venue for bird watching. A walk round the reserve will take about 2 hours. In winter there are large numbers of wildfowl including goosander, wigeon and gadwall.

Old Sulehay Nature Reserve

Old Sulehay is a picturesque mosaic of limestone quarries, grassland, woodland and wetland providing a home for many different invertebrates, such as green tiger beetle. Many of the wild flowers are rare in Northamptonshire and attract a wide range of butterflies. In May look out for the grizzled skipper butterfly in Stonepit Close.

Stanground Wash

Cut off from the rest of the washes by a busy railway line and enclosed by parallel floodbanks, this reserve has its own distinct habitat. This area of washland is flooded each winter providing a winter refuge for waterfowl and nesting space for waders. In the summer, it is grazed.

Summer Leys Nature Reserve

This wetland is made up of flooded gravel pits, flood meadows, species-rich neutral grassland and mature hedges. Oystercatcher, ringed plover and redshank stay to breed, whilst whimbrel, turnstone and common sandpiper pass through during migration. Discover a wide variety of ducks, including teal, wigeon, shoveler, pochard and golden plover.

Wellingborough 3 miles

01604 405285 
Summer Leys

Photo: Michel Kerrou

Stanwick Lakes

Stanwick Lakes has an abundance of species within its 750 acres, and is particularly known for wintering waterfowl. It has one of the largest reedbeds in Northamptonshire which is home to a variety of birds and invertebrates. Wildflower meadows support a wealth of butterflies and bees whilst Kingfishers are regularly spotted along the river banks.

Twywell Hills and Dales

There are a number of different waymarked trails within the site. Free car parking, picnic meadow, wheelchair access to picnic area and viewpoint, permanent orienteering course and countryside walks to local villages

Higham Ferrers Pits

Higham Ferrers Pits is a narrow strip of grassland fringed with areas of maturing willow, reedbed and open water. At A45/A6 junction exit to Higham Ferrers. At Market Square turn into Wharf Road. Cross large footbridge over A45 to entrance.

Lings Nature Reserve

Discover woodland, scrub, ponds and acid grassland. Woodland areas range from plantations of mature sweet chestnut, douglas fir and larch to areas which are returning to more native woodland with naturally regenerating birch, rowan, oak and holly. Dragonflies, damselflies, frogs and newts all breed in the ponds on the reserve.

A4500 Wellingborough Road 

Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows

A wonderful stretch of rare grazing marsh and flooded gravel pits, now a hugely valuable wetland for birds and other wildlife. The site is home to wintering golden plover, wigeon and gadwall. In summer a huge variety of birds come here to breed, including many declining species such as grasshopper warblers and cuckoos.

Located 5 miles from Wellingborough

01604 774039 
Lakes and Meadows

Wilson's Pits Nature Reserve

Wilson’s Pits are three disused gravel pits with areas of scrub, grassland and the newly created ‘scrape’ areas. The older pit has developed into a sheltered area surrounded by maturing willows and reedbeds that are very important for invertebrates.

At roundabout where the A45 meets the B465 and Crown Way, turn left into minor road. Turn right into parking area at reserve entrance. 

Rushden NN10 6AN

01604 405285 
Wilson's Pits

Abington Meadows

This is an urban reserve just off the A45, and its marshy grassland is home to such a tremendous diversity of wildlife that it falls within the Nene Valley Special Protection Area.

The site contains locally rare seminatural wetland habitats, which include wet grassland, marginal vegetation and fen/swamp communities, river backwaters, ponds, reedbed, willow scrub and mature hedgerows.

There plenty of wintering birds on site, and interesting plants; this is one of the few sites in Northamptonshire known for pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), a nationally rare member of the mint family. It is also an excellent spot for invertebrates – more than 400 species have been recorded here.

Weston Mill Lane, Northampton, NN3 3HJ 
Abington Meadows

Storton's Pits and Duston Mill Meadow

One of a number of old gravel pits along the Nene Valley, Storton's Pits is important for wetland birds and insects. An old ditch along the northern edge supports some of the rarest insects in the county. Reed beetles can be seen from late spring and water beetles can be seem all year round in the open pools.

Duston Mill Meadow is a small but important fragment of wet riverside meadow that is important for butterflies and dragonflies. Wading birds, such as snipe, feed in the exposed wet mud areas and the rare water rail is a regular visitor. 

Northampton, NN5 4AB 
Storton's Pits and Duston Mill Meadow

Thorpe Wood

This beautiful ancient woodland consists of a canopy of oak and ash with hazel and field maple below. The northern section is actively managed by traditional coppicing with baskets weaved around the stools to stop deer and rabbits grazing on them. The ground flora is diverse here, especially in spring when there are lots of wood anemones and a spectacular display of bluebells. 

Holywell Way, Peterborough 
Thorpe Wood

Woodston Ponds

The site is split into two halves. On the west side there is a reedbed that provides homes to many birds such as reed warbler and reed bunting. The pools and channels within the reedbed are home to great crested newt and some uncommon species of water beetle. Surrounding the reedbed is a circular boardwalk for easy access.

On the east side of the site there is a small lake that can be viewed by leaving the boardwalk and following the track to the viewing platform. From here you can comfortably view the wildlife. Grey herons can be regularly seen patrolling the edges while the open water is used by many species of ducks.  

Access via Wharf Road, Peterborough 
Woodston Ponds

Stanground Newt Ponds

Visitors who stumble upon this tiny site will find what remains of a wet meadow and pond system that pre-dates the housing estate. Great crested newts and smooth newts share this refuge and it is thought to be one of the best breeding sites in Peterborough.

Holylake Drive, Peterborough 
Stanground Newt Ponds

The Boardwalks Nature Reserve

The Boardwalks lies alongside the River nene at Thorpe Meadows. In 1991 it was declared a Local Nature Reserve. At any time of the year it is a beautiful place to visit. There are many different areas within the reserve; ponds of varying sizes and depths, marsh, tussocky grassland and many types of willow.

The Boardwalks is rich in wildlife, easily and freely accessible and close to the city centre.

Peterborough, PE3 6GA

The Boardwalk Nature Reserve

Glapthorn Cow Pastures

This Site of Special Scientific Interest features different habitats that provide homes for a mix of wildlife. The mature woodland in the northern half of the reserve is dominated by ash, while the southern part is mainly blackthorn with some oak.

Primroses in the spring are followed by bluebells and earlypurple and common-spotted orchids. Nuthatch and warblers can be heard, and the reserve is a nesting site for nightingales.

2.5 miles from Oundle, Northamptonshire 
Glapthorn Cow Pastures

Short Wood & Southwick Wood

Short Wood is a fragment of the Rockingham Forest, a medieval hunting forest. It is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest which includes areas of managed hazel coppice, many large oak, ash and field maple trees and small areas of dense blackthorn scrub. Occasionally, nightingales can be heard here.

Much of the ancient woodland at Southwick Wood was replanted to replace elm trees felled in the late 1960s due to Dutch Elm disease. It now contains a mix of oak, ash, field maple, hazel and cherry. The woodland provides cover for a range of visiting bird species including willow warbler, woodcock and tawny owl. Beautiful views out over the countryside and nearby villages can be spotted through the trees.

Glapthorn Road, Glapthorn, PE8 5BD

Bradlaugh Fields

These three meadow areas, close to Northampton town centre, are part of the larger Bradlaugh Fields Park complex. The reserve contains fine examples of unimproved, semi-natural limestone grassland and fragments of ancient hedgerow.

Plants typical of calcareous grassland are found here, including yellow-rattle, knapweeds, lady's bedstraw, red bartsia and bird's-foot trefoil. If you are lucky and visit at dawn or dusk foxes and badgers are commonly spotted around the Bradlaugh Fields complex.

Aintree Road, Northampton