Checkout Low Barns Nature Reserve Watch Video

Bordered by the River Wear, the wetland reserve of Low Barns is a significant site for wildlife. The reserve spans over 47 hectares of woodland, open water and grassland. So head on down to enjoy some fresh air and delightful views!

What is Low Barns like?

Though it was once the site of farming and sewage treatment works, Low Barns is now a thriving haven for a great variety of wildlife. The reserve consists of a series of inter-connected lakes and ponds, surrounded by extensive alder woodland, dense reedbeds and lush grassland.

Boardwalks are in place so that you can see the reserve has to offer, with minimal disruption to the wildlife. Hop into a bird watching hide and see what wildlife you can spot!

Once you have suitably muddied your boots from your explorations, you can pop into the visitor centre. Here you can warm up with a coffee, peruse the shop for some treats or watch the live bird feeding cam.

Wildlife at Low Barns

Low Barns is a special site of ornithological interest, and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A diverse range of resident and migrant bird populations can be spotted here all throughout the year. So be sure to bring a camera and flask with you for your stay in one of bird watching hides! Some of the birds you can spot at Low Barns include;

  • Redstarts
  • Starlings (check out this video from the reserve of an incredible starling murmuration!)
  • Tawny Owls
  • Snipes
  • Kingfishers
  • And many more!

Thanks to the diverse range of habitats, you can also spot several other species of animals. If you’re patient and quiet, you may be rewarded with the sight of roe deer, foxes or stoat (or all three if you’re lucky!)

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled when near the water as a variety of dragonflies and damselflies, as well as numerous amphibians, are known to live here. Otters also call the reserve home and are frequently seen lounging in the waters!


Low Barns is suitable for all mobilities as the reserve is largely flat. Visitors can borrow mobility scooters for the duration of your their stay. Furthermore, there is an even-surfaced network of paths winding throughout the reserve. These paths lead to the numerous bird hides dotted throughout the reserve. The hides themselves are also ramped and the visitor centre has disabled access, ensuring that everyone can enjoy their time here.

Further points of interest

Fancy seeing more of what the area has to offer? A visit to Joe’s Pond, another accessible reserve managed Durham Wildlife Trust, is sure to hit the spot. A short distance away you can also stop by the historic Witton Castle Country Park.

Q Is there parking available at Low Barn's Nature Reserve?

There is parking available, with disabled access bays, next to the reserve. Entrance to the reserve is free, though a donation of £2.50 is encouraged for non-Durham Wildlife Trust members.

The reserve is open 24/7, though vehicle access is available from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

Q Are there toilets at Low Barn's Nature Reserve? Are there accessible toilets?

There are toilets, as well as accessible toilets, in the visitor centre. The visitor centre is open from 10am to 4pm every day.

Q How do I get to Low Barns?

From the A68, near to Bishop Auckland, follow the brown signs through the village of Witton-le-Wear. Turn right at the Victoria public house. Once you have crossed the level crossing, the reserve is half a mile along the road on the right.

From A689, Low Barns is 3/4 of mile west of High Grange.

If you have a Satnav, you can also just type in the postcode DL14 0AG, to be guided to your destination.

Q Is Low Barns dog friendly?

Dogs are permitted at Low Barns. However, staff kindly ask for you to keep your dog on a short lead as animals do graze here.

Q When are the best times to visit Low Barns?

The Wildlife Trust recommends you visit Low Barns from;

- March to June
- June to September
- August to September

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