RSPB Dearne Valley - Old Moor in South Yorkshire, England - September 2011
About Old Moor
Situated right at the heart of the Dearne Valley, Old Moor is a wonderful place to come and watch wildlife. The skies, fields and open water are teeming with birds throughout the year.
In the summer the grasslands are ablaze with butterflies and orchids, and you’ll be able to see newly-hatched ducklings. In winter the reserve is an important stopping-off point for ducks, geese and swans – plus 8,000 golden plovers!
There are lots of events, guided walks and family activities, as well as home-cooked food in the Gannets Café and a well-stocked shop. The reserve is a great day out for young and old alike.
What you should know...
The paths are firm and suitable for all levels of ability, including wheelchair users, but there is one small, steep slope to negotiate.
1 November - 31 January: visitor centre open 9.30 am - 4 pm. Gates open until 4.30 pm. 1 February - 31 October: visitor centre open 9.30 am - 5 pm. Gates open until 5.15 pm. 19 April - 30 September 2010: reserve open until 8pm. Normal opening hours will still apply to the visitor centre and cafe. The site is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
RSPB members free; adults £3; children £1.50; family ticket £6 (any number of children); concessions £2. Free access from Old Moor to Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council 'Passport to Leisure' and 'Rothercard' cardholders.
If you are new to birdwatching...
We run guided walks on a variety of topics all year-round. Please check our events page or call the visitor centre for details.
Information for families
Children can have fun on the climbing frames, swings and slide in the 'Kids Go Wild' adventure playground. There are also Wildlife Explorer backpacks available for hire. These contain bug jars, binoculars and guide books to help children get the most out of their visit.
Information for dog owners
No dogs allowed, except registered assistance dogs
Our star species are some of the most interesting birds you may see on your visit to the reserve.
Spend time in the hides and you may be rewarded with an unforgettable kingfisher encounter. Listen for their shrill, piping calls and then watch for the flash of blue and orange.
You may be lucky enough to find one of these compact owls perched in a tree or on a fencepost. They become very active at dusk and you may hear their shrill calls.
Huge numbers of lapwings gather here in winter. If a bird of prey, such as a peregrine, is in the area, they take to the air in a vast wheeling mass.
Look among the black and white of the lapwing flocks for the golden glow of these smart waders. Several thousand spend winter
Tree sparrows can be seen at the bird feeding garden alongside the commoner birds. Listen for their short and sharp 'tek' calls as they fly in and out.
Each season brings a different experience at our nature reserves. In spring, the air is filled with birdsong as they compete to establish territories and attract a mate. In summer, look out for young birds making their first venture into the outside world. Autumn brings large movements of migrating birds - some heading south to a warmer climate, others seeking refuge in the UK from the cold Arctic winter. In winter, look out for large flocks of birds gathering to feed, or flying at dusk to form large roosts to keep warm.
The last of the wintering birds such as goldeneyes can still be seen in March. Listen out for the cuckoo's unmistakable call from April onwards and see the warblers returning for the summer.
Broods of ducklings paddle around in the shallows and the grasslands are vibrant with butterflies and orchids. Listen for snipe 'drumming' as they fly above the field pools and see dragonflies basking on the paths.
Fieldfares and redwings gorge on berries to fatten up for the winter. Thousands of migrating birds use the Dearne Valley as a refuelling point on their long journeys.
The bird feeding garden is at its busiest at this time of year, with tree sparrows, greenfinches, goldfinches and tits on the feeders. Spectacular flocks of golden plovers and lapwings take to the air, attracting peregrines on the lookout for a meal.
•Car park : There is a free car park and cycle racks near the main courtyard.
•Group bookings accepted
•Guided walks available
•Good for walking
There are six hides out on the reserve and one overlooking the bird-feeding garden. There are two viewing platforms in the pond and picnic area.
Two easy-going trails give excellent views of wildlife on the reserve. Follow the trail around the ponds and picnic area to see wildflower meadows and a variety of birds and insects, or take the trail to the hides, where you can get closer to wildlife in a variety of different habitats. Both trails are suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs and are less than one mile in length.
Our cafe serves a range of hot and cold drinks and cake, plus hot, homemade meals and freshly-prepared sandwiches. Cooked breakfast is also served until 11.30 am. You can also get ice cream and chocolate from the visitor centre.
RSPB Old Moor has a large shop, selling everything from binoculars to books, bird food to bike bits, clothing and gifts. There is also a wildlife gardening section with plants, books and equipment to get you started.
The shop stocks:
Old Moor is a haven for nature in the heart of the Dearne Valley - a stunning area of wetlands, teeming with birds and other wildlife. With an exciting indoor classroom, education garden, bird hide, and a range of excellent education facilities, Old Moor is the ideal place to bring your class for an unforgettable experience of nature.
Main car park is surfaced with well-rolled tarmac planings, those with mobility difficulties can park in the designated disabled parking bays in the lay-by adjacent to the car park.
Access to visitor centre
100 metres from the car park with good access into the visitor centre.
Information staff are available to help in the visitor centre.
Wheelchairs and an electric scooter are available for free hire. Advance booking is recommended for the scooter, please contact the visitor centre for availability.
Disabled toilets available on the ground floor next to the visitor centre entrance.
Current picnic areas accessible for wheelchair users, but tables are currently not suitable for wheelchair users.
In the visitor centre and is accessible for wheelchair users.
Classroom and meeting rooms
Are now available, with good access for wheelchair users.
A café is located on the first floor, with a lift available.
Access to hides
Good paths to all hides providing views over 250 acres of diverse habitat. Wheelchair accessible viewing areas available in all hides.
Benches available along the pathway to the hides.
Work is currently underway to upgrade two of the hides to improve wheelchair access.
How to get here
By bicycle (Sustrans cycle route)
The Trans Pennine Trail runs along the Southern edge of the reserve. Access to the reserve is via a bridge into the car park.
View National Cycle Map
Wombwell (3 miles/5 km). Swinton (3 miles/5 km); regular connections to Doncaster.
A number of buses run from Wombwell and Swinton stations and stop near the entrance to Old Moor nature reserve. Buses also run to the reserve from Barnsley, Doncaster and Meadowhall. Please check with bus operator TravelLine on 01709 515151 for further information.
From the M1: Leave at junction 36 and take the A61 (Barnsley). At the small roundabout, continue straight ahead on the A6195 (Doncaster) for approximately four miles. After passing the Morrison's superstore, follow the brown RSPB Old Moor signs. From the A1: Leave at junction 37 (Doncaster), follow the A635 towards Barnsley, then follow the brown RSPB Old Moor signs.
Cycling at Old Moor
The national Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) cycle route runs right past the entrance to RSPB Old Moor. Where in the summer the grasslands are ablaze with butterflies and orchids, and you’ll be able to see newly-hatched ducklings.
Cycling is the best way of viewing all the sites in the valley on gentle gradients with generally good quality paths.
Together with Natural England and The Environment Agency we're promoting a network of improved multi-user sites around the Dearne Valley linking the five RSPB Dearne Valley nature reserves - Old Moor, Wombwell Ings, Gypsy Marsh, Edderthorpe Flash and Bolton Ings.
Staff and volunteers use this flat and well-surfaced route on a regular basis, sometimes with surprising consequences. A roe deer sprang out at one member of staff proving that it's not just the reserves that are great for wildlife in this area!
Around 8 per cent of our visitors travel to the reserve along the TPT. It's great that they can stop off and refresh themselves with a cup of tea, or service their bike with parts from the shop.
We're trialling some health rides for people new to cycling in a partnership with Cycle Touring Club (CTC) and Ground Work Dearne Valley.
Farmhouse Meeting Rooms
Farmhouse Meeting Rooms are available for corporate and community group bookings.
The beautifully restored farmhouse building is set amid the 250-acre RSPB Old Moor reserve, South Yorkshire, providing a unique location for a corporate or community event and creating a relaxing atmosphere for any meeting.
We can provide facilities for the following;
There are both large and smaller rooms on offer, seating from 12 to 30 people depending upon layout.
Rooms can be arranged in boardroom, theatre style or in any other format to suit your event.
We also have a range of equipment for hire including a television and digital projector, with fitted screens in the rooms.
The Farmhouse Meeting Rooms are conveniently situated near both the M1 and A1. It is centrally located on the Dearne Valley Parkway, close to Barnsley, Rotherham, Sheffield and Doncaster. There are also good public transport links with surrounding areas.
Your booking includes free access to the nature reserve for the day as well as the visitor centre, shop and the Gannets café. The pathways lead to a number of bird watching hides for visitors wishing to catch a glimpse of wetland and garden birds. A tour of the site can be arranged as an unusual and revitalising break during a meeting.
The on-site, award-winning Gannets Café provides catering. A selection of mid-morning snacks can be served in the meeting rooms including warm Danish pastries and bacon sandwiches. Fair-trade tea, coffee and an assortment of herbal teas are served throughout the day. Various buffet lunches are available, or alternatively delegates can stroll across to the Gannets café themselves and appreciate panoramic views of the reserve from the veranda.
The Farmhouse Meeting Rooms are run with the environment in mind. A wind turbine, solar panels and a bio-fuel boiler generate power in a sustainable way. We also use as many recycled, organic and Fair Trade products as possible.
For more information, please write to the Conference Co-ordinator:
Farmhouse Meeting Rooms
RSPB Dearne Valley
Old Moor Lane, Wombwell
Alternatively, use the details listed below.
Telephone: 01226 273835