Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre

Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre & Nature Reserve

© Tim Sexton

Centre and car park closed
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Wheelchair accessible
Reserve Map

Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre & Nature Reserve

Like all of our reserves across the county, Idle Valley remains open to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. With its wide open spaces, this beautiful network of lakes, wetland, grassland and woodland provides an ideal location to connect with nature and get some fresh air. However, further to concerns over the numbers of people congregating at popular destinations we have taken the decision to close the car park off North Road. Visitors can still access the reserve on foot from the many pedestrian access points which are spread across the reserve.

Further to the latest advice from Government we have now closed our temporary take-away cafe service and the Centre building is now closed until further notice.    

Community support – some regular visitors to our centres who have decided to self-isolate have been in touch to ask how they can support us during these challenging times. Anyone wishing to support our work at Idle Valley and across the county in the coming days, weeks and months can do so by using the donation form below.

Thank you. 

Will you help us look after this special place?

Any donations will help us to look after this special place for wildlife and visitors
Type of donation

Idle Valley is the largest reserve in our care, located just five minutes away from Retford and within an hour of Nottingham, Lincoln, Doncaster, Sheffield and Newark.  

This beautiful nature reserve is one of the largest in the East Midlands too and has something for everyone. Whether you’re planning a gentle stroll with the family, a spot of lunch in a tranquil setting or are looking for somewhere to spend a whole day wildlife watching Idle Valley Nature Reserve is the place to head. We have a wheelchair and pushchair friendly lakeside walk too.

Idle Valley is one of the richest birding sites in the region and species to look out for in winter include gadwall and little grebe. Our café and shop offer a warm welcome and a spectacular view over the reserve making it an ideal destination whatever the weather.

There is also a natural play area for self led den building and exploring!

Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre
North Road
DN22 8RQ

Tel: 01777 858 245
For out of office hours, please leave us a message.

Map of the reserve

Damage to den building area

We are sorry to report that there has been some vandalism to the hut in the den building area during lockdown, however the area is open, so please take care.

The purpose built den building area on the left just off the path before you get to Belmoor Lake is open to all for self led den building and nature exploration. The area can get very boggy when very wet so dress for the weather and wear wellies!

Idle Valley Bikes - DSC_0033 - Edited - Heather Keetley

Heather Keetley


Our shop at Idle Valley stocks a range of wildlife books, gifts and toys as well as a wide range of bird food and feeders. 

We also have a specialist optics section for binoculars and wildlife watching telescopes and run regular optics events with special discounts and expert advice on hand.

View products
Idley Valley Cafe - DSC_0401 - Edited - Heather Keetley

Heather Keetley


Our café at Idle Valley serves a wide selection of home-cooked food, tasty snacks and hand-made cakes as well as a selection of teas, coffees and other drinks.

If you want to make the most of being outdoors, you can also enjoy your snacks and refreshments in our shady picnic area.

Family Activities

Discover more

Upcoming Events at Idle...

Here is an example of one of our fun family friendly events at Idle Valley:

Idle Valley Nature Reserve forms part of our Idle Valley Living Landscape area where we are working with partners and neighbours to restore and re-connect a range of wildlife habitats.

The reserve is the base for the management of all our nature reserves across the north of the county including Daneshill Lakes and Treswell Wood, the first reserve every purchased by the Trust.

Wildlife Watch

Our Wildlife Watch club offers a fun, wild and fantastic time for children
aged 7 - 13, and meets at Idle Valley on the 2nd Saturday of each month

Find out more

© Tom Marshall

For those wanting to learn more about the reserve’s wildlife we host activities such as monthly bird walks.

If you also want to get involved in caring for this special nature reserve there are a number of volunteer opportunities available.

Volunteers are needed to help care for the reserve but also to help with welcoming visitors, serving in the café and working with families and children at our Wildlife Watch sessions.

Speedo corporate work party at ANR meadow July 2017 credit Peter Stanyon

Volunteer with us

We welcome you to join a great team, make new friendships, discover nature in unique ways and make a real difference for nature and for people.

Find out more

What's going on at Idle...