Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve

Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve

Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve
3.5
Bodies of Water • Nature & Wildlife Areas
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10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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About
Mere Sands Wood is a 42 hectares (100 acres) nature reserve between the villages of Holmeswood and Rufford in west Lancashire, England, managed by the The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester & North Merseyside. Nestled in the stunning nature and woodland areas is a brand new cafe, shop and visitor centre, perfect for relaxing in after a walk, and surrounded by amazing views. 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. Other water birds like little grebes, kingfisher, 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.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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3.5
111 reviews
Excellent
46
Very good
25
Average
7
Poor
10
Terrible
23

Lillibet23
6 contributions
Apr 2021 • Couples
Just received a parking fine of £25 from here - machine was out of order on Wed 19th with a large notice stuck to it suggesting making a donation of £2 on next visit. Next visit was on Sunday 23rd when I had a nasty fall when I tripped over poorly maintained chicken wire spread over a wooden walkway - ticket machine was still out of order and cafe was closed. I have tried to email an appeal as detailed n the Parking Charge Notice, but number allegedly not recognised. Beware car park!
Written June 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello, thank you for your review and for getting in touch and bringing this matter to our attention. We can confirm that all PCNS that were issued between 15th May 2021 and 26th May 2021 were issued in error. Any PCNS issued between those dates have now been cancelled. You may have noticed that there is a website address on the letter that you received where you can enter your vehicle details and check the status of the PCN, www.ticketappeals.co.uk . Entering your details will now result in a message saying that the ticket cannot be found, this is correct as the PCN is now longer outstanding. If this is not the case, please contact parking@brockholes.org and we will resolve this issue for you. We are very sorry to hear about your fall and can confirm that the chicken wire has now been fixed. We hope to have news of our cafe and Visitor Centre opening very soon - this project has been delayed vastly due to the pandemic but our team are now working extremely hard to ensure this will be open for visitors very soon. We are sorry for any inconvenience or upset that this parking error may have caused.
Written June 16, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Nigel T
Rufford, UK163 contributions
Aug 2021 • Couples
A bit disappointed today with our visit to MSW. It was our first visit since the new cafe had been opened and our expectations were high as it had been along time coming.

We were so disappointed to find hot drinks in disposable cups that you had to make yourself by pushing a button or putting a tea bag in hot water. We may as well have brought a flask, we also had to pay 2.95 for each drink.

There are a couple of hides broken sadly and at least one that is being rebuilt.

The positive is thd nature and the really good paths and car park.
Written August 24, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi 242nigelt, thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. We really appreciate your support in visiting Mere Sands Wood. We understand the wait for the new cafe and visitor centre has been a long time coming - a lot of this was out of our control, mainly due to the Covid outbreak in 2020 which stopped us mid-way through the build. We are really pleased the cafe and visitor centre are now open. We take your comments regarding hot drinks on board and will pass them to our catering and retail team. Please be assured that any money spent in the cafe and visitor centre is funnelled directly back into Mere Sands Wood to help pay for the vital conservation work which takes place there to allow all the wildlife the best chance at a wilder future. Unfortunately yes, three of our hides are currently our of action. One of these was subjected to an arson attack in 2020, and two have fallen into disrepear after years of use and enjoyment. We are working hard with our teams on other sites to ensure the hides are back up and running again as soon as possible. We are glad you enjoyed the nature reserve and the car park, and we do hope you will consider visiting Mere Sands Wood again soon.
Written September 28, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Lance H
Wigan, UK25 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
Visited on a Friday afternoon. After negotiating the cratered car park, found the pay machine broken and paid my £2 over to a chap in the visitors centre. No receipt. Walked round the circular path and stopped off in deserted hides to view limited number of birds. Of most interest was a tree full of cormorants with a heron thrown in. Mere was dotted with a few ducks. No mammals to be seen but it was late afternoon in January. Would imagine that it is a lot nicer in spring or summer.
Access from main road is constrained and would benefit from a passing point to avoid awkward reversing manoeuvre.
Nice enough but a bit tired.
Written January 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

FellowTraveler81914
Trafford Park, UK17 contributions
Jun 2022 • Family
Oh dear. Terrible pricing decisions have been made reducing visitors massively. For what is fundamentally a very basic walking area a £4 parking charge is preposterous. The hides are dilapidated and there is no child’s play area. We go to nature based locations all over the country and this is the worst value for money we have ever seen.

The cafe pricing is also ridiculous a very basic sausage roll for over £3! A terrible machine coffee over priced. A can of pop £2 and a tiny packet of crisps £1. Not to mention dry cake and long waits of 15 minutes for a queue of 2 people and with five staff!

I have seen the management say they have made clever pricing strategies. This person clearly doesn’t understand fleecing loyal customers means a large drop in attendance and people not buying at the shop.

Over the road you have the national trust which is offering massive value in comparison and is still quite expensive.
Written June 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

718junef
Wigan4 contributions
Jul 2022 • Couples
We used to go as part of a walking group and today me and oh decided to do a reccy for another group of approximately 15 of us. We could see some work being done in the grounds and a new café/ Visitors centre. I noticed that there was no price list at the counter, but we ordered two teas which we had to make ourselves, it was very quiet and no wonder! When I went to pay I was asked for £6.50, I actually asked again as I thought I had misheard. It left me feeling ripped off. Other reviews are correct in saying once bitten twice shy, a lot of business will be lost being greedy and they don't seem to be listening to the public and taking it on board.
Written July 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello, we're sorry to hear you feel this way, unfortunately due to rising prices across the board we have had to make difficult decisions. Mere Sands Wood is a special place and we want to make sure that we take care of the site in the best possible way for both people, wildlife and future generations. We completely understand that things are difficult for people at the moment, and these decisions weren't taken lightly, however they were necessary. We hope that you will continue to visit Mere Sands Wood as we greatly appreciate your loyal support.
Written July 21, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

debbie
Greater Manchester, UK12 contributions
Apr 2022 • Couples
Used to enjoy Mere Sands Wood but visited today and parking is now a fixed £4.00, a flat charge is scandalous when you aren't staying all day. Unfortunately this has put us off visiting again, for somewhere that is looking sad and bedraggled it really isn't worth the money. Incredibly disappointed.
Written April 21, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Deb T - thank you for leaving an honest review about your recent visit to Mere Sands Wood, and thank you for supporting the Lancashire Wildlife Trust in doing so. We are sorry to hear you feel our parking charges are scandalous and that our site is not looking at its best. It costs us a significant amount of money every day to care for the woodland, wetland and meadows at Mere Sands Wood and the wildlife that lives there. The flat rate parking charge is the only fee we ask for, and if you were to walk or cycle to the reserve, there is no charge at all. Without this income, we cannot afford to manage the nature reserve and encourage the flora and fauna, wildlife and environment to thrive. As a charity we are striving to diversify our income streams so that we can continue to help reverse the catastrophic decline of wildlife nationally. We have a huge task ahead of us over the coming years to step-up and save the natural world, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy it. It’s not too late to save our wildlife, but we must act together. We have a parking pass which enables you to park at both Mere Sands Wood and Brockholes Nature Reserve for as little as 20p per day. If you purchase this and continue to visit, you will be able to experience the wonderful changes happening every day at Mere Sands Wood as our team work tirelessly to create a fantastic nature experience for people of all ages. Not only that, you can appreciate the wonderful, and often rare, wildlife sightings from our new and improving hides dotted around the reserve. To purchase a parking pass, visit the Lancashire Wildlife Trust website and click on shop. We do hope you will consider visiting us again and help us ensure everyone can experience a wilder future.
Written May 5, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Alan H
14 contributions
Apr 2022 • Couples
We didn't enjoy our visit firstly the parking charges are the same £4 if you want to stay all day or 30 minutes.
The visitor centre and cafe which we didn't use are relatively new with the pond's nearby looking like large muddy puddles.
The reserve itself is poorly maintained the signage is old and tatty with the hides looking unloved and requiring updating.
The derelict tower is a sad reminder of how things use to be in days gone by.
Spend some of the parking charges on what's important about the reserve rather than a posh cafe with overpriced food.
Written April 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Paula D
Liverpool, UK69 contributions
Jul 2022
A real proper nature reserve, lovely and quiet with walks of different lengths set out around the lakes and hides. Paths are suitable for wheelchairs and prams although maybe a bit bumpy in places with tree roots etc. Also be aware that some of the paths are a bit narrow and as it's a natural woodland there are nettles and brambles in places. This is not a place with children's play areas and tourist 'tat'. Parking is £4 which the sign says you can pay anytime before you leave so we paid on leaving. We had lunch in the cafe which cost £20 for two of us which we didn't think was too bad for a toastie, salad and crisps and a veg pastie and chips with 2 hot drinks. Food was really nice and we'd definitely go again. This was our first visit in about 4 years and it's had a lot of new development in the café which is nice and spacious and airy, plenty of outside seating and water provided for dogs. The £4 parking goes towards the upkeep.
Written July 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Paula, we're delighted to hear that you had a wonderful visit to Mere Sands Wood! It certainly sounds like you maanged to experience everything the reserve has to offer, hopefully you will pay us a visit again soon.
Written July 18, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Stephen B
6 contributions
Aug 2022
Visited today, but haven't been for some time. A lot of money has been spent here, but things are worse than when we last visited. Parking is overpriced - and we were told only a small percentage of the £4 actually goes to the Wildlife Trust. The food in the cafe is overpriced and of poor quality, as are the vending machine hot drinks - £6.50 for two. The reserve and hides are very run down. We enquired where the wildlife sightings board was and were told they no longer have one. We used to enjoy seeing birds at the feeding stations, but they have been removed.

We live not too far away, but won't be returning any time soon. Overall a very disappointing visit. A lot of investment made but the reserve has been spoiled.
Written August 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Stephen, we're sorry to hear that you had a dissapointing experience at Mere Sands Wood. With regards our parking charges, we have ambitious plans to continue to care for the reserve in the best possible way for wildlife, our supporters and visitors. We have invested heavily in the site with a newly re-surfaced car park, new visitor centre and café. Every penny raised goes directly towards supporting the vital work taking place onsite. With rising costs affecting all areas of our operation, from staff wages to the materials needed to improve paths, energy bills and food supplier costs - we are experiencing a challenging time. As such, we hope our supporters will understand that we have had to make some difficult decisions. With regards the reserve and our hides, please be assured that there is constant conservation work taking place onsite, to support our precious wildlife. As you are aware a number of our hides have been well loved and are now in need of repair, which we are attempting to do as quickly as possible, we have also recently opened our new Fletcher Hide. Hopefully this dissapointing experience won't discourage you from visiting the reserve again, as we greatly appreciate your support!
Written August 3, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Bluesanjazz2
London, UK13 contributions
May 2021
We spent a nice peaceful hour in Mere Sands a few weeks ago. The ticket machine was out of order, with a hand written note informing us that the machine was out of order, but you could still park and "consider making a donation in the gift shop" on our next visit. Not so peaceful is the demand for £25 fee as a fine for parking without paying which arrived today. The car park was fairly full - I guess a lot of poor people are feeling pretty upset and angry. I've supported ths place for years. Never again!
Written June 4, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi BluesAnJazz2, thank you for your review and for getting in touch and bringing this matter to our attention. We can confirm that all PCNS that were issued between 15th May 2021 and 26th May 2021 were issued in error. Any PCNS issued between those dates have now been cancelled. You may have noticed that there is a website address on the letter that you received where you can enter your vehicle details and check the status of the PCN, www.ticketappeals.co.uk . Entering your details will now result in a message saying that the ticket cannot be found, this is correct as the PCN is now longer outstanding. If this is not the case, please contact parking@brockholes.org and we will resolve this issue for you. We appreciate your comments about supporting Mere Sands Wood in the past and we do hope you will continue to do so in the future. We are sorry for any inconvenience or upset that this error may have caused.
Written June 16, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve (Rufford) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve

Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM