Saltholme RSPB – Britain’s Most Unexpected Nature Reserve

If there’s one thing we and our children love, it is nature. We do our best to get out into the countryside when we’re at home, and we also like to carry this on when we go on holiday too. Recently we returned to the North Yorkshire Moors for a holiday and while we were there we visited the Saltholme RSPB Centre.

When I heard that there was an RSPB centre not too for from Middleborough, I immediately thought that this might not be the most expected place that you would find a nature reserve. Then my memory kicked in and I remembered that this place had been featured on the SpringWatch television program in the past (or something similar) and that there were some amazing things to be found here, so we thought we’d pay the place a visit.

How much does it cost to get into Saltholme RSPB

Giving the Kids fun days out during the half-term holidays, while at the same time sticking to a budget, can be tough. The Saltholme RSPB centre was really reasonable in this regard, as it only cost £5 per car to get in. If you are an RSPB member or you become a member, then entry to the centre is free. It’s also worth noting that if you travel to the Saltholme RSPB using public transport, bicycle or on foot, then you will also gain free entry to the reserve.

What to Expect from your visit to RSPB Saltholme

As we’ve already mentioned, Saltholme isn’t the most expected place to find a nature reserve in the UK. Located in the industrial heartland of the North East, the reserve is surrounded by plants and factories and you could be forgiven for wanting to turn your car around as you approach the reserve. When you get to the reserve and park up your car however, you can immediately see that this place is well worth exploring. The design of the centre itself is unique and engaging and there are outdoor gardens to explore as well as play areas for the kids, both indoors and outdoors. As we entered the centre, the staff were warm, friendly and inviting, and immediately gave us the information we needed to get the most out of our visit. As it was half term, there were extra activities available such as bird box building, nest building, colouring activities and there was also the option to get an explorer pack for just £2, so that the kids could stay even more entertained while they explored the reserve.


Image: Steff Lee under CC BY 2.0

The reserve itself boasts a series of trails situated around wetlands, with small wood hut ‘hideouts’ strategically placed to allow you to relax and take in the wildlife on display. As you can guess from the fact that Saltholme is an RSPB reserve, the main attraction here are the birds, with the RSPB website stating that among Saltholme’s star species are the Common Tern, Lapwings, Peregrines, Water Rails, Yellow Wagtails and more. While we were there, we also got a great close up view of Goldfinches who were making full use of the feeders outside one of the hideouts. There is more to see than just birds, though, as there are ‘creepy crawly’ bug hotels set up on the trail and there was also a little ‘Alice in Wonderland’ trail for the kids to enjoy.


Saltholme RSPB Hideouts

Images: Whistling in the Dark under CC BY 2.0

Inside the centre, one of the star features for me was how nice the Cafe area was, with a panoramic view of the wetlands on offer while you relax with a coffee or enjoy lunch. If you’d prefer to take a picnic then you are more than welcome to do so. There’s also a really nice gift shop which my wife and kids were unable to resist.


Image: Fellwalker under CC BY 2.0

Would I go again?

So, having been to this place once, would I go again? For the price and experience, I would definitely pay Saltholme a second visit. As a family we really enjoyed our visit, even though we didn’t pick the greatest day weather-wise to go. The kids had fun exploring the trails and my wife and I did too. My only regret is that I didn’t have a decent pair of binoculars with me to get a good, close up look at the birds. You can buy these in the gift shop at the centre or from the RSPB online shop, but I only discovered this at the end of the day. All in all, I’d really recommend this place for a cheap and cheerful family day out and would not hesitate to return myself for a second look.  

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