Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Attenborough Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre

Nottingham's Wildlife Haven

On the western edge of the Nottingham conurbation, Attenborough Nature Reserve is a mostly quiet haven tucked away behind a retail park, the railway and a sewage farm. The 145 hectare (360 acres) Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is squeezed in between the railway and the River Trent. It is the River Trent which laid down the gravel the extraction of which created the lakes. The reserve lies around these flooded gravel pits which provides the habitats which attract diverse wildlife, especially the birds for which it is best known.

The spire of St Mary’s church in the centre of Attenborough village is visible from all across the reserve, and it is the village that gives the Nature Reserve its name. Conveniently the Nature Reserve shares its name with Britain’s popular nature broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough, who opened the reserve in 1966.

Attenborough Nature Reserve is managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust who have been creating and managing varied habitats across the reserve. Judging by the wildlife sightings this would seem to have been very effective; it certainly appears sympathetic to its surroundings. The Trust has also built hides for bird watching and these can be used, for a nominal cost, from 9am to 4pm every day except Christmas Day.

St Marys Church Attenborough KH15018Attenborough Nature Reserve is an important over wintering site for wildfowl and often gets rare visitors. For several years several Bittern, a rare member of the heron family, have spent the winter in the reserve. According to RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds) report a UK population of 75 breeding males, mostly in Lancashire and East Anglia, with 600 birds spending the winter across southern England.

The reserve is essentially open from around 7am to dusk and early in the day it is very quiet, even the wildfowl are often asleep. During school holidays and weekends it starts to get busy especially from mid-morning around coffee time. It is a family destination and it is common to see three generations of a family out enjoying a walk, often with binoculars, or bike ride around the paths that criss-cross the reserve. The paths provide a range of views; as well as the range of wild life habitats there are is the village of Attenborough to explore as well as the views and paths along River Trent. The paths are surfaced and are mainly flat so give easy access for those in wheelchairs and other disabled users. The riverside walk forms part of the Trent Valley Way, a long distance footpath that follows the River Trent from Long Eaton to where it joins by the Chesterfield Canal at West Stockwith.

Attenborough Nature Centre and Education

Nesting Coot and Young Attenborough LE12003The Nature Centre has a small shop and is the base for The Wildlife Trust’s educational activities; it has a comprehensive programme of organised walks, school visits and other events. The Centre is a low energy eco building to minimise its impact; one can watch the energy consumption while enjoying a coffee. Depending on the time of year there are also screens showing what is happening in nest boxes and elsewhere on the reserve. In the spring the visitor can watch coots nesting below the walkway up to the Nature Centre.

The Nature Centre café does meals; its hearty soups and casseroles are recommended; their Lamb and Mint Casserole with chunky bread is substantial and recommended. It will set the diner up for an afternoon’s exploration of the reserve or be a well-earned lunch after a morning’s exercise.

In good weather it is a simple pleasure to just sit on the balcony of the Nature Centre with a drink and watch the birds.

Further information




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