Visiting our Nature Reserves

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Visiting Nature Reserves

Cooper's Hill - Dave McKay

Nature reserves are refuges for wildlife

We look after more than 100 nature reserves across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. A vast array of wildlife thrives in these vital refuges due to the unique habitat they offer and our management work to keep the conditions right.

We love nature and we want others to love it too. 

We offer free public entry to most of our reserves (unless it is unsafe to do so, or if there is a risk of irreversible damage to wildlife). We just ask all visitors to follow our reserve access guidelines.

 We are expecting our reserves to be under additional pressure at this time - please check and follow our updated Covid-19 response guidelines below

Reserve Access Guidelines

  • Stick to the paths - Straying from the path is a threat to ground nesting birds, can cause damage to emerging plants (such as bluebells) and can increase chances of getting ticks or Lyme Disease (both for humans and for dogs!)
  • Dogs permitted in some areas under close control (read more about dogs on reserves)
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Take your litter home - it can be useful to bring a bag for it.
  • But nothing else! - Please don't forage, take wild plants or fallen branches home with you.
  • No naked flames, fires or barbecues are allowed on our reserves. Please do not discard cigarette butts.
  • No drones or remote control vehicles - they can distress! (more information below)
  • No commercial activity without consent - email us to find out more
  • Follow the Countryside Code

Guidelines in response to Covid-19

  • Practise social distancing - turn back if not possible without straying from the path. 
  • Avoid touching infrastructure such as gates, benches, bird hides and railings where germs can be spread - we do not routinely clean these.
  • Follow the latest Government advice on travel.
  • Be aware that we may not have staff on site.

Autumn also means...

  • Please watch for livestock signs and always keep dogs on leads in these areas. 
  • Recent wet weather means paths may be muddy. Please wear suitable footwear and do not stray from muddy paths where sensitive ground flora can suffer from being trampled.
  • Some of our reserves may be closed due to management works or ground conditions in order to preserve and protect sensitive wildlife. Check individual reserve pages for updates before you visit.

Covid-19 Response Updates

Click to find out why we don't allow drones

For the safety and enjoyment of other visitors, and to protect wildlife from disturbance, please do not fly unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) or other remote-control flying devices in our nature reserves without permission.

The use of drones is overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority and is an area where regulation is currently developing. Drones require permission and licensing to operate, and operators must have sufficient training and insurance to use them safely and responsibly.

Our reserves are important areas for wildlife and many of them are used for breeding. These sites are sensitive to disturbance; for instance, birds may feel threatened by drones and abandon their nests.

We do obtain drone footage of our reserves to assist our conservation work, but it is done by our own licensed operator, or with our permission if we are confident the operator is licensed and insured and that wildlife will not be injured or disturbed. If you have any questions about drones on our nature reserves please contact communicationsteam@wildlifebcn.org.

No drone zone

No drone zone

You can help

You can help us continue to care for our nature reserves as a volunteer or as a member of the Trust. We rely on volunteers to help with a lot of the vital management work needed –  we could not achieve success for local wildlife without the massive contribution that volunteers make. If you're interested in giving some time to help wildlife find out more on our volunteering pages

You can also help our nature reserves to survive and grow by becoming a member or making a donation to our work.