Famed for its wetland birds including bitterns, Potteric Carr has a network of paths enabling visitors to explore this wildlife utopia. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the stunning vistas, with large reedbeds seemingly stretching for miles, and to get lost in the wooded areas. With excellent facilities including a tea room, toilets and thirteen viewing hides this exceptional nature reserve offers something for everyone.
On an area of low-lying land to the south east of Doncaster, on the floodplains of the River Torne, this site offers the ideal conditions for many wetland wildlife, with as many as 230 bird species being recorded over the years.
A site which has continually grown, with more and more land restored for wildlife by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust over the years, this great expanse is great for flowers and insects, as well as birds. Notable species include orchids, with bright purple or spotted white flowers which bloom come early summer. Birds once threatened with extinction also breed here, such as bittern and marsh harriers – majestic in their flight across the great lakes.
Families can join in with a varied programme of events, held year round, ranging from Nature Tots for the under 5s, pond dipping and bug hunts for the slightly older, to Junior Ranger Days for those wanting to learn more about what is involved in looking after the site. When there are no events on nature trails and iSpy guides can entertain young ones for hours, as they explore and take in the fresh air.
For adults wishing to learn a bit more about their local wildlife a programme of Wild Workshops have been designed to improve identification and surveying skills, amongst others. Guided walks are also regularly led by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust experts, taking in the plants, insects and birds. All event details are listed online at www.ywt.org.uk/whats-on, where visitors may also book their place.
Once part of the Hatfield Royal Deer Chase in the 16th Century, the land was later abandoned due to its tendency to flood. Then drained, the surrounding area was eventually mined. Some years later this use of the land prompted fen conditions of old to recur, following subsidence of coal seams in the 1950s. A small area was declared as a nature reserve in 1968 and has since grown at an exponential rate. Managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers, the site is today well known in the local area as a wildlife-watching haven, and makes up the largest urban inland wetland. Its propensity to flood is now a benefit to the local community, with the Wildlife Trust allowing it to take on extra floodwater in times of high rainfall, taking it away from the houses and businesses of south Doncaster.
Free entry applies to members of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, whilst a small entry fee applies to non-members payable on entry. Free car parking is available by the entrance.