Mere Sands wood
Great crested grebes performing their courtship dance with weeds in their mouths

Great crested grebes by Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

The view from the Rufford Hide at Mere Sands Wood
Wildfowl, waders and abundant wildflowers thrive in this tranquil oasis of lakes and woodland.


Mere Sands Nature Reserve,
Holmeswood Road
L40 1TG
A static map of Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve

Know before you go

42 hectares

Parking information

Car park is open 24 hours. £2 charge applies; £30 annual pass available.

Walking trails

The site is accessible by foot at all times.


95% of paths are suitable for wheelchairs and prams (shortcut through the pine wood is not suitable for wheelchairs). Six hides, the viewing platform and Visitor Centre are fully accessible. Two motorised buggies are available for loan from the Visitor Centre.


On a lead


Visitor centre
Bird hides
Picnic area

When to visit

Opening times

Visitor Centre: Now closed until further notice
Classroom/Field studies centre toilets: Open seven days a week, 10am - 3pm.
Car park: open 24 hours.

Best time to visit


About the reserve

Nestled amongst the peaceful agricultural landscape of Rufford, Mere Sands Wood is a true wildlife haven.

Spring and summer see new life bloom in the form of marsh orchids and broad buckler fern, while the air buzzes with dragonflies and birdsong. Keep your eyes peeled for species like bullfinches, tree sparrows, great spotted woodpeckers and even sparrowhawks as they fly to and from their nests in the woodland. If you are lucky you may spot the rare willow tit, and if you take a seat in one of the lakeside hides you may even see great crested grebes performing their elaborate courtship ritual.

Autumn and winter mark the arrival of overwintering birds like charming teal, handsome pintail and comical shoveler. Other water birds like little grebes, kingfisher, goosander and bittern have all drawn crowds in recent years, while the lakes and reedbeds also support water rail, reed buntings, goldeneye, pochard, gadwall and more. In all, over 170 bird species have been seen on the reserve, and 60 are known to have bred.

But Mere Sands Wood isn’t just a birder’s paradise – mammal-lovers will relish the opportunity to try and spot roe deer, stoats and foxes as they creep through the broadleaved and conifer woodland. A mature Scots pine plantation supports a small population of red squirrels, while water voles inhabit the ditches bordering the neighbouring arable land.

A mosaic of habitats including heaths and sandy, wet meadows encourages an impressive array of plants to flourish. Wildflowers like marsh helleborine, golden dock, yellow bartsia and lesser centaury add stunning splashes of colour, while the pink hues of common spotted, early and southern marsh orchids contrast beautifully with buttery yellow-wort.

You can find out more about our Mere Sands Wood nature reserve by listening to the audio trails at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!

Contact us

Ian Wright
Contact number: 01704 821809
Contact email:

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
The Good to Go accreditation has been awarded to Lancashire Wildlife Trust

Listen to our Mere Sands Wood audio trails

Hi-Tech Audio Trail

Sensory Audio Trail

History Audio Trail

Every time we go to Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Mere Sands Wood, we find peace and encouragement, a new beginning… It’s part of who we are and we are the richer for it.
Member of LWT for over 27 years