A shot of the Attenborough Nature Centre, which sits in the middle of Attenborough Nature Reserve.
The East Midlands
United Kingdom
The East Midlands
United Kingdom

Attenborough Nature Reserve

Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Attenborough Nature Reserve in Attenborough, Nottingham is home to hundreds of birds that change throughout the year.
  • Explore the bird hides dotted around the reserve.
  • Go on one of the trails to see if you can see species as they feed and find a mate.
  • Go to one of the many events to help get your kids interested in nature.
  • Relax watching the lakes inside the café.

Attenborough Nature Reserve and Centre is in Attenborough, Nottinghamshire. It is owned by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. Covering 145-hectares of lakes, wetland, grassland and scrub, it has the Attenborough Nature Centre at the centre, which is visitor services and used for education. If you enjoy the outdoors and places like Sherwood Pines Forest Park, or Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire, you'll love the Attenborough Nature Reserve.

Originally gravel pits, sections of the site started to become wetlands. Although some sections are still used as gravel pits, and gravel barges can be seen on the water, the land slowly became the nature reserve it is today. It was established in 1966 and opened by Sir David Attenborough. In 2019 when the sire was due to be sold, Sir David Attenborough helped to raise one million pounds to transfer ownership to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. The flooded pits have names like Church Pond, Clifton Pond, Main Pond, Tween Pond and Beeston Pond and are very important for the birds who come to Nottinghamshire for winter. The meadows and surrounding areas are also given names to make it easier to walk around the site.

Want to see some of your own Attenborough Nature Reserve sightings? There are four bird hides you can explore. Sand Martin Hide is located behind the Attenborough Nature Centre. It was featured on the One Show, as it's home to up to 150 sand martins each summer. With views across Coneries Pond, see sand martins feed and go home to their nests. From 2014 to 2019, the nests there have resulted in an average of around 193 chicks being fledged each year. The Kingfisher Hide focuses on the reed beds and the wildlife within that part of the site. There's also a bird feeding station there, which encourages a variety of bird species as well as kingfishers. Tower Hide is higher, so it shows a 360° view of the surrounding landscape. See bitterns, which were first bred in Nottinghamshire in 2015 thanks to the work of the Nature Reserve, as well as warblers who feed. Delta Hide is perfect for bird and bat watchers.

There are three main Attenborough Nature Reserve walks that visitors can go on around the site, but it's also possible for guests to take walks up themselves. The Tufted Duck Trail is great for looking out for wildlife, as it goes to the most populated sections of the nature reserve. Look out for herons on Tween Pond, as well as warblers and several dragonflies and damselflies. In winter, you'll see the ducks the trail is named after. There's also the Skylark Trail, which is slightly longer. See skylarks, meadow pipits and grasshopper warblers in spring and summer, and then watch for the return of migrating birds like whinchat and wheatear when it gets to autumn. In winter, you might even spot an owl. The Kingfisher Trail follows the perimeter of the reserve. Look out for woodpeckers and enjoy an afternoon in the hides on the trail to try and spot some pretty animals.

If you want more structured activities, for children, there are the Wild Tots and Wild Kids events. With stories, games, art and more, kids from two to eight years old will learn about wildlife in a variety of unique ways. For eight to 12-year-olds, there's the Wildlife Watch, helping children to spot what lives in Attenborough, Nottingham. For older children, there are monthly volunteer sessions where they can become Young Rangers and help protect the reserve. Many events happen throughout the year, which ranges from seeing wildlife to trying out new tech and just going on a walk. In 2020, the reserve debuted the Opticron, a special piece of equipment for spotting birds.

Feeling hungry? The Attenborough Nature Reserve Cafe has everything you need to fill your stomach. Look over the lakes of Attenborough and the views of Nottinghamshire as you enjoy hot and cold foods, daily specials, or even a cream tea if it's a special occasion. If you want to get a reminder of your day, there is a shop selling a wide range of nature-related items. There's also an online shop to help support Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. If the kids need a bit of sitting downtime, there's the Indoor Nature Discovery Area with colouring sheets and specimens to look at, as well as interactive screens to teach children about wildlife, particularly the wildlife living at the site.

For places to stay nearby, having the city centre so close is particularly helpful. There are plenty of chains like Novotel, Best Western, Ibis and Holiday Inn. There are also smaller businesses close by like Bennetts Hotel, Restaurant and Bar so you can get a tasty pub dinner at the same time. Risley Hall Hotel has ivy growing on the outside, which looks especially stunning.

What to know before you go

  • The Attenborough Nature Reserve and Centre opening times are from 10am to 4.30pm.
  • The site is wheelchair accessible.
  • The site is fine for buggies.
  • Toilets, accessible toilets, and baby changing facilities are all available inside the Attenborough Nature Centre. Be warned, they aren't marked on the Attenborough Nature Reserve Map, so it might be best to use them before exploring the reserve.

Getting there

  • The Nature Centre and reserve are situated just off the A6005, near to Barton Lane.
  • Attenborough Nature Reserve Parking is open all day but is not free. The car park is at the bottom when you go over the Barton Lane railway crossing, with the Village Hotel on your left.
  • Attenborough Train Station is five minutes walk from the reserve and a further 10-minute walk from the Nature Centre.
  • From Nottingham and Derby, you'll need the Trent Barton 'INDIGO' Bus Service between Nottingham Broadmarsh and Derby Bus Station, and then it's a short walk to Barton Lane.
  • Attenborough Nature Reserve is easily accessible by foot and cycling.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines


At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Events available
Lowest Price Guarantee

More amazing things to do