Landscape In Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne And Wear
Nature Reserve near Houghton-le-Spring run by Durham Wildlife Trust.
Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve is a 60ha site, built on the site of the restored Rye Hill Surface Coal Mine between Durham and Sunderland. You can access it via the A1 and A690 and it is well signposted to keep you on track (follow the brown signs).
The site, along with the Site of Special Scientific Interest, Joe's Pond, which is right next to the reserve, are managed by Durham Wildlife Trust. The site acts as their headquarters and they operate an education centre, café (which does some lovely cakes and coffee) and community wildlife garden on the site as well. There are also toilets on site.
The site contains a number of different habitats, including grassland, scrub, mature woodland and several ponds, which means you have a chance of seeing a wide variety of birds and animals. On our visits we have seen all of the following; Mute Swans, Skylarks, Lapwing, Roe Deer, Dragonflies, Long Tailed Tits, Reed Buntings, Swallows, Swifts and Canada Geese and lots more besides.
The site is also home to all five species of UK Owl and brown hare, water voles, common frogs, common toads and smooth newts are also present. At the southern end of the reserve are damp meadows with hemlock and willowherb, and a dry meadow, which contains cowslips in the spring.
The site is widely accessible to all visitors, although there are some steeper slopes up to the highest points of the reserve, and there are 3 nature trails you can follow with interactive rubbing posts for the kids. Entrance to the Nature Reserve is free, although a donation of £2.50 for car parking is suggested though not compulsory, and it is open from 9.30am til 4.30pm seven days a week.
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Parking is on site by the small visitor centre and cafe. The Nature Reserve can be accessed easily from that point.
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There is parking on site.
Contributed by Andrew Gardner
I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.
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