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  • Writer's pictureKelly

The Wildlife Trusts - Our guide to Rainton Meadows Nature reserve

We love love love The Wildlife Trusts and have been members for quite a few years now. As we live in Sunderland again, one of our favourite places to visit is Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve.

We have put together this handy guide for anyone wondering if it is worth visiting. Today we went as part of our #30dayswild and did a scavenger hunt. Strangely the boys found everything except a worm!

About Rainton Meadows

Rainton Meadows is home to the Durham wildlife trusts headquarters with a lovely little cafe which serves the tastiest hot chocolate.

Rainton Meadows nature reserve was created in 1996, when the Rye Hill opencast coal mine was restored. Turning the reserve into a special little haven for some of the prettiest birds. We were lucky enough to see the gorgeous Cygnets.

Over 200 species of bird have been recorded here, including







*Oyster catcher


*Ringed plover


Amazingly all 5 UK owl species can be seen here throughout the year how cool is that!

It is not just birds you can enjoy here though, because you might get lucky and spot some of the other local residents such as the Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Weasels, Stoats and Rabbits. If you take a close look in the lakes you might see Tadpoles, frogs, toads, newts, water scorpion and dragonfly nymphs. Rainton Meadows is also great for Butterflies and we recently released our 4 that we raised from caterpillars here. The meadows and wildflowers are fantastic for them.

Exmoor Ponies were introduced here as a natural way to help graze the land. They are gorgeous. There hooves help to keep bracken at bay when they walk on it and it crunches it down. They are a fantastic addition to the conservation of the area.

You can enjoy the birds from one of many bird hides and we were recently greeted by a rather large caterpillar at one of them. You can enjoy various trails around the nature reserve to suit your family. We have done a few different trails and found one of them only took us around 45 minutes to walk and the other took us almost 2 hours because we kept stopping to take photos.You could easily spend half a day here or even a full day if you have activities to keep the kiddies busy such as a scavenger hunt, bug hunt, bird watching etc.

Need To Know

  • Plenty of parking spaces

  • Free parking

  • Site is well sign posted

  • Maps dotted around to keep you on track

  • Wheelchair friendly

  • Pushchair friendly

  • Benches to take a rest throughout the reserve

  • Viewing points

  • Cafe

  • Toilets

  • Friendly helpful staff

  • Dogs welcome on leads

  • Visitor centre houses cafe, toilets, meeting rooms & classroom

  • Amazing hot chocolate


Located within easy reach of Sunderland and Durham just of the A690. Plenty of Brown signs to guide you in. Postcode for sat nav DH4 6PU.

Sunderland & Durham buses stop at Rainton Bridge Business park which leaves a short walk to the reserve.

Become a Member

The Wildlife Trusts rely on support form the members and these members help maintain 36 Nature reserves across the Tees to Tyne

A family membership can cost as little as £3.50 per month which includes a

*Car sticker

*Copy of the reserves guide

*Members magazine

*Events for all ages

*Free Gift

The Wildlife Trusts also offer some fantastic opportunities to volunteer.



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