Nature Reserves

From national nature reserves to special areas of conservation, there are lots of places in the District to lose yourself in nature and enjoy watching wildlife.

National Nature Reserves (NNR)

Nottinghamshire’s National Nature Reserve, Sherwood Forest, falls within our district. The area is managed by the RSPB and Nottinghamshire County Council.

Once part of the 10,000 acre Royal Forest of Sherwood, the woodland is dominated by native oaks and other native trees such as silver birch, rowan, holly and hawthorn.

Discover more on the Visit Sherwood Forest website.

The reserve contains more than a thousand ancient oaks most of which are known to be more than 500 years old. The most famous of these, the Major Oak, may be nearly twice that age.

Local nature reserves

Local nature reserves are typically spaces managed for their wildlife, but with the principle idea that people can easily access and enjoy nature at these sites.

Local authorities have the power to declare local nature reserves on land that they own with support from Natural England.

Search for local nature reserves in England on the website or scroll down this page for more details about the local nature reserves in Newark and Sherwood.

Special areas of conservation

Birklands and Bilhaugh is designated as a Special Area of Conservation. It’s the only designated site of international importance in Nottinghamshire. This is a dry oak dominated woodland. It owes much of its exceptional interest to the presence of many rare dead wood invertebrates and lichens. It forms part of the European Union-wide Natura 2000 network.

Local wildlife sites

Acting on information supplied by the Nottinghamshire Biological and Geological Records Centre (NBGRC), Nottinghamshire has designated a series of local wildlife sites for their local nature conservation value. Collectively, these sites form an essential ecological network, acting as wildlife corridors and stepping stones, allowing species to migrate and disperse between sites.

Some sites are also defined as Sites for Nature Conservation (SINCs) and you can find more information on these on the Nottinghamshire County Council website or by downloading the Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation leaflet (PDF File, 835kb).

These sites receive protection through the planning system.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

We have a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, often know as triple SI’s within the district including woods, heaths, meadows, lakes and commons. Each one is special for its biodiversity value or geographical features.

Search for special areas of protection, conservation areas and sites of scientific interest on the list of protected sites.

Local reserves

Besthorpe nature reserve

One of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust's largest nature reserves, Besthorpe Nature Reserve provides an ideal habitat for a wide range of birds, wild plants and other wildlife such as great crested newts.

Cockglade and Rotary Wood

Cockglade Wood has ancient origins, being a remnant of the woodland that covered the area long before it became the Royal Hunting Forest of Sherwood. Rotary Wood is the exact opposite - the native trees there were planted on the restored spoil tip of Thoresby Colliery in 1998 to 1999 to celebrate the millennium. They’re part of park.

Dukes Wood nature reserve

As the location of the UK's first onshore oilfield, Duke's Wood has been described as the 'best kept secret of World War II’. Managed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust this 20-acre woodland wildlife haven has a fascinating industrial heritage.

Eakring Meadows

One of the best remaining neutral grasslands in the county, Eakring Meadows provide good habitat for butterflies and birds. Care should be taken to avoid trampling the wildflowers during May and June.

Farndon Ponds

Farndon Ponds is an outstanding local wetland area supporting a bio-diversity of wildlife and fauna. It’s managed by Farndon Parish Council with help from FREG (Farndon Residents Environmental Group).

Rainworth Water

Once a part of Rufford Colliery, Rainworth Water is now a valuable wetland habitat constituting of multiple pools, shallows and river meanders. It’s a quiet wilderness and valuable wetland habitat managed by Nottinghamshire County Council. Dogs are welcome on a lead or under close control.

Rufford Country Park

Visit the original monastery and stable block along with formal gardens, woodlands and lake at Rufford Country Park.

Sconce and Devon Park

Surround yourself with civil war history and enjoy the very best of the great outdoors at . Newark’s largest open space also has modern facilities including a children’s play area, fitness trail, cafe and a network of pathways suitable for prams and pushchairs.

Sherwood Heath

Located near Ollerton, is a SSSI and Green Flag park that’s home to a variety of wildlife. The heath is a remnant of the heathland of the ancient Sherwood Forest.

Sherwood Pines forest park

The largest forest open to the public in the East Midlands, Sherwood Pines is a centre for a variety of outdoor activities. You’ll find all-ability walks, an orienteering course, cycle routes and mountain bike trails through the forest. 

Southwell Potwell Dyke Grasslands

The grasslands are a series of small wetland meadows owned by Southwell Minster and now being managed as traditional hay meadows. There is a network of paths across the fields at Southwell Potwell Dyke Grasslands which are open all year round. Guided walks are available.

Southwell Trail

Southwell Trail dates back to 1842 and is a former railway line. It’s an important wildlife corridor through the Nottinghamshire countryside, owned by Nottinghamshire County Council.

Tippings Wood

Tippings Wood is built on farmland between Rainworth and Blidworth and has a variety of habitats including wetlands and grasslands

Vicar Water Country Park

Created on the site of a former colliery, Vicar Water Country Park is a Green Flag park with a large fishing lake, children’s play area, cafe and more.