National Nature Reserves in England

Find out more about the reserves, where they are, who manages them and what special features or opportunities they offer.

Update: 25 January 2021

Natural England’s National Nature Reserves are open to the public, and we welcome our visitors to enjoy them freely whilst following the countryside code and the latest government coronavirus (COVID-19) advice.

You should be aware that visitor facilities such as public toilets and bird hides remain closed.

The majority of our NNR car parks are now open. A small number remain closed until further notice because of additional safety or management requirements:

  • Yarner Wood car park (East Dartmoor NNR) but other car parks are available
  • Bure Marshes NNR nature trail access from boat moorings
  • Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses NNR: the manor house car park remains closed but other car parks are available

For National Nature Reserves managed by other organisations you should contact the managing body for latest details on any opening restrictions.

National Nature Reserves (NNRs) were established to protect some of our most important habitats, species and geology, and to provide ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research. Most NNRs offer great opportunities to schools, specialist interest groups and the public to experience wildlife at first hand and to learn more about nature conservation.

There are currently 224 NNRs in England with a total area of over 94,400 hectares - approximately 0.7% of the country’s land surface. The largest is The Wash covering almost 8,800 hectares, while Dorset’s Horn Park Quarry is the smallest at 0.32 hectares. See:

Natural England manages about two thirds of England’s NNRs. The remaining reserves are managed by organisations approved by Natural England, for example, the National Trust, Forestry Commission, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and local authorities.

NNR partnership strategy: find out about the managing partners’ joint approach that puts NNRs at the heart of 21st century conservation.

Natural England issues a public notice when an NNR is created, extended or has a change of management.

Visit a National Nature Reserve

Natural England welcomes all visitors to the reserves they manage - they are free to enter.

Most NNRs have some form of access and many have extensive path networks and access land. Some NNRs are difficult to access because they are remote, have rugged terrain or sensitive habitats.

Follow the Countryside Code and respect any special notices at the reserve regarding dogs or sensitive habitats.

East Midlands NNRs

East of England NNRs

North East NNRs

North West NNRs

London and the South East NNRs

South West NNRs

West Midlands NNRs

Yorkshire and the Humber NNRs

Public access on NNRs

Horse riding and cycling has been permitted on certain NNRs by relaxing the public access rules. See the maps to find out where you can ride a horse or cycle.

Find out more about Natural England’s work to secure public rights of access to NNRs:

Volunteering with Natural England

Research opportunities for further education students

Dissertations and similar projects provide students with opportunities to work on high quality sites and to contribute to the research and management of Natural England’s NNRs. See the list of topic titles available for study.

Published 4 January 2009
Last updated 25 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. Removed Rostherne Mere NNR car park from the list of car parks that are closed.

  2. Update on which car parks remain closed.

  3. Update to status of car parks for Fenn's Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses NNR.

  4. Car parks that remain closed as of 18 May 2020.

  5. Link to NNR Strategy leaflet added.

  6. Revised introductory text.

  7. Link to a visitor survey added

  8. First published.