Reserve safety

Nature reserves

Reserve Safety

Family birdwatching from hide at Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve - Guy Edwardes

Having a safe visit

Our nature reserves are special, wild places that are often off the beaten track and remote from human habitation. Some also present challenging terrain, particularly at certain points in the year. We try to ensure that risks to visitors are kept to a minimum, however there are hazards on our nature reserves that are not always obvious. On our busier nature reserves which have interpretation panels or signage, we highlight those hazards but smaller nature reserves do not usually have any information or interpretation on site.  We want you to have an enjoyable visit so here’s a few tips to consider before you visit:

Safety information

  • Walkers are welcome to walk in our reserve throughout the year. Please do stick to designated paths and follow the Countryside Code. 
  • Please do not ride or cycle on our reserves.
  • The paths and tracks have uneven surfaces in places and can be slippery in areas of exposed rock.
  • Some of the paths on some of our nature reserves can be muddy and low lying sites can be flooded in times of heavy rainfall.
  • Beware of falling branches and dead wood, especially when windy, and look out for any that has fallen across paths or boardwalks.
  • Animals may be grazing at any time of year, therefore please keep dogs under close control.
  • Be aware that machinery may occasionally be operating in the wood.
  • Please follow any instructions given on temporary notices or safety signs.
  • Camping and fires are not permitted and present a safety risk.
  • Make sure you wear footwear that is suitable to prevent unnecessary slips or falls.
  • Please clean up after your dogs and keep them under control. Check out our Canine Code here for more information.

Canine Code

Plan your visit

  • Plan how to get there - some reserves have grid references only as the Sat Nav won't always get you exactly there. However to find the closest postcode to our reserves, please use a Grid Reference Finder, like the one here
  • Check out location - not all of our reserves have car parks, so take a look at the location before you set off to find somewhere you can park. Wherever you park, please remember not to leave any valuables in your car.
  • Check the weather forecast - before leaving make sure you are prepared for all weathers, and take suitable clothing and footwear. If it's hot, please take water, a sunhat and suncream, as some areas of the reserves are not sheltered or shaded. 
  • Be aware of your local facilities - there are no toilet facilities on our reserves.
  • Check you signal - know the nearest place where you can get signal, as mobile reception in many places can be poor.
  • Contact us - if you come across any problems on our reserves, such as any damage to the reserve, suspicious behaviour ect, please get in touch with us at 01823 652400. Secondly, if you come across an injured animal please call a wildlife rescue charity such as Secret World or the RSPCA.
  • Be Aware - unfortunately thieves operate everywhere, so we would like to remind visitors not to leave valuables in their cars when visiting.
  • Make the most of your trip - don't forget to take your binoculars, and a species identification book, to make sure you don't miss a moment.

Ash dieback

  • Be vigilant in windy weather
  • Stick to paths and trails
  • Always follow any on-site signs 
  • Be aware that work may be being carried out in areas on our reserves


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