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Nene Wetlands

As part of the work to repair the Girder bridge, the section of the old railway line between the Girder Bridge and the corner of Cotton Reel Lake is being resurfaced. As such, it may be closed at times over the next 4 months. We appreciate that this will cause inconvenience for people trying to walk from Irthlingborough to Rushden lakes (it is still possible to get through via the Nene Way) and we apologise, however, once the work is complete there will be a hard path running all the way through, so hopefully the temporary inconvenience will be worth it in the long term.

Central to the Nene Valley is the Nene Wetlands nature reserve, a unique one square mile of wild and man-made habitats, managed for wildlife and people.

The Nene Wetlands includes the Upper Nene Valley Gravel Pits Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area. Four Wildlife Trust nature reserves - Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows, Ditchford Lakes and Meadows, Higham Ferrers Pits and Wilson's Pits are now linked up with Skew Bridge Lake, Delta Pit and Higham Lake - flooded gravel pits, wet meadow, wet woodland and reedbed at the heart of the Wildlife Trust's Nene Valley Living Landscape.

This extensive series of shallow and deep open waters are surrounded with a wide range of marginal features, such as sparsely vegetated islands, gravel bars and shorelines, and habitats including reed swamp, marsh, wet ditches, rush pasture, rough grassland and scattered scrub. This range of habitat and the varied topography of the lagoons provide valuable nesting, resting and feeding conditions to sustain nationally important numbers and assemblages of breeding and wintering birds.

Twenty thousand waterbirds use the wetlands every year, for breeding, for their winter quarters or as vital stopping points on their long migration routes, from as far away as Arctic Russia and southern Africa.

Our new Visitor Centre - a low-lying wooden, grass-roofed building on the edge of Skew Bridge Lake - is hugely symbolic for the Wildlife Trust BCN. A first visitor centre for the Trust's three counties and a wonderful opportunity to engage with an entirely new audience coming to experience the retail park at Rushden Lakes. Visitors will experience an adventure at a place where wildlife, industrial history and modern retail culture come face-to-face. The Trust's visitor centre officially opened in July 2017, and is open 10am-5pm every day except Christmas Day.

Outdoor play specialists Flights of Fantasy have created 14 beautiful wildlife sculptures in a trail along the edge of Skew Bridge Lake. Designer Russell Bowlby's creations also include interactive installations in a Wildlife Discovery Area - an abandoned barge and an otter holt. Carefully positioned trail cameras around the lake deliver footage to screens in the visitor centre (e.g. images from the heronry on Delta Lake - not publically accessible), and with the boathouse of Canoe2 just next door, access to the lakes - with portage on to the river Nene - couldn't be easier.

Maps of the reserve are now available to buy from the Nene Wetlands' Visitor Centre.


Nene Wetlands Map

Species and habitats

Grassland, Meadow, Standing water, Wetland

Nearby nature reserves

Wilson's Pits (Nene Wetlands)
0 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Higham Ferrers Pits (Nene Wetlands)
0 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows (Nene Wetlands)
1 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Nature reserve map

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.

Reserve information

Nene Wetlands Visitor Centre The Boardwalk
Rushden Lakes
NN10 6FA
Map reference
SP 938 679
Great for...
a family day out
Insect spotting
historical interest
overwintering birds
spring flowers
spring migrant birds
stunning views
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Visitor Centre 10am - 5pm
Gift shop
Visitor centre
Picnic facilities
Disabled toilet
Baby changing
270.00 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)
Living Landscape schemes
Nene Valley

Walking information
Many wide, smooth trails for walking and cycling
Please note there is a 5 hour parking limit at Rushden Lakes
Dogs under effective control
Grazing animals
highland cattle, sheep
Reserve manager
Toni Castello


Factsheets and guides for your visit