The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, Holmeswood Road, Rufford, Lancashire, L40 1TGTel No:  01704 821 809         


A wheelchair accessible visitor centre with toilets, drinks machine and occasional wildlife displays.  The teaching room is available for education groups wanting to use the reserve for fieldwork.  A small shop is located within the centre selling a few books and wall charts.  An information board relates latest sightings and several excellent leaflets inform of what to see within the reserve.  Several hides most of which are now accessible for disabled users.

Opening and Closing Times:

The visitor centre opening times are 9.00am - 5.00pm.  The car park is open between 9.00am - 5.00pm except from Easter until the end of August where it remains open until 8.00pm.  A 2.00 donation is invited for use of all the reserves facilities.

Area Description:

With 105 acres made up of mature deciduous and coniferous woodland, wet meadows, lakes and sandy heaths Mere Sands Wood is an important area for dragonflies and wildfowl as well as for its geology and unique history. The name 'Mere Sands' dates back to medieval times when the area was on the shore of a large lake called 'Martin Mere'.Two marked walks are available to guide you with the GREEN walk 2.5km in length and the BROWN periphery route totaling 4km in length.With its diversity of wildlife and habitats and its always secluded areas this reserve is an ideal escape and always has a sense of peace and tranquility.

Best times to visit:

Winter is best for wildfowl and other birds with spring and autumn usually throwing up plenty passage migrants for extended interest.  Mid - late summer is best for plants and dragonflies with Autumn simply superb for fungal growth.

Weekdays are quietest with weekends become more popular.  Any time of day has its own special magic with late summer evenings an excellent time to unwind and admire the reserve.

A call in at the reserves welcoming visitor centre (with knowledgeable and friendly staff) is a great start to a pleasurable stroll.

Key Flora:

The wildflower meadow has such delights as Lesser Centaury, Yellow Bartsia, Bee Orchids and Southern Marsh Orchid.  Other highlights of the reserve are Golden Dock, Marsh and Green Flowered Helleborine and an abundance of fungi and lichen specimens.This is one of the North West's best fungi locations with over 200 species being recorded.


Secluded spots that are rich in insect life and flora are highlights of a summers day at Mere Sands.

Key Fauna:

Excellent birding opportunities can be had all over the reserve with winters wildfowl flocks being particularly pleasing.  The small feeding stations near the visitor centre are excellent spots to view Bullfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Reed Bunting as well as an abundance of more commoner species.  Kingfisher and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker are the reserves highlights with the latter becoming increasingly difficult to locate.  Woodcock roost in winter and may be seen at dusk.A good selection of butterflies and dragonflies with Black Tailed Skimmer, Emporer and Migrant Hawker the key picks.  Moths are numerous with Peach Blossom, Large Emerald and Lesser Swallow Prominent common.

Roe Deer, Hedgehog and Water Voles are present but hard to see but Grey Squirrels are abundant.  

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