RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve Review Guide

We had a weekend away to Saltburn-by-the-sea and we were looking for somewhere nearby to visit. There actually wasn’t all that much to do outside of Saltburn so we settled on a visit to RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve near Stockton on Tees in North Yorkshire.

We did try to get there by going on the Transporter bridge but sadly it was closed so it ended up taking us quite a while to get there. As we were driving closer and closer we were finding it hard to believe that there was a nature reserve in the area. It is very industrial in this part of England with docks, a large industrial estate and factories.

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve Review Guide

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve Things To Do Review

When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised. There is a large modern visitor centre with a cafe with views over one of the lakes (see the photo above). The staff that welcomed us were incredibly friendly and helpful and they instantly made us feel welcome. They gave us a map and advised us of the best route to take around the reserve with children.

The water at Saltholme is more like wetlands rather than lakes. The most birds we saw were from the visitor centre windows. They do have a few hides dotted around although we didn’t spot a great deal from these. I think we visited at a quiet time of the year.

It didn’t matter though as we really enjoyed our visit as it’s a great family-friendly place to visit with lots to find and play on. The hides have been cleverly designed as there are big panes of glass that the birds can’t see you behind. This was a really lovely touch and we preferred it to the normal small wooden windows that traditional bird hides have. There was also a handy bird spotting guide in the larger hide.

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve

We were given a map, especially for kids and it pinpointed the different areas and sights and sounds for kids to look out for. The map also highlighted the hides and the different footpaths/trails. There are 5 circular walks at the reserve some of which are more challenging than others and in bad weather, some are for wellies only. The people at the visitor centre can recommend the best paths to suit your needs and there are certainly accessible paths for wheelchairs and buggies.

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve

We visited in the wintertime and there was plenty there to spend a good two to three hours. If we had visited in warmer weather we could have spent even longer. Our walk started with a visit to Alice in Wonderland’s dinner table. This is a real highlight to the nature reserve. It has been made out of wood and the attention to detail is amazing. You can even sit at the table.

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve Review Guide

A little further on from here there is a water play area. There is a walkway with a path filled with shallow water. This is the welly splash area. It was such a cold day our son didn’t feel much like splashing but I can imagine that it’s great fun in warmer weather. Also next to here, there were a series of wooden troughs where kids can run water from the top, through a series of dams and out at the bottom.

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve Review Guide
RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve

A little further around we found a bird hide with an area for spotting wild birds. I have never seen so many wild birds and it was lovely watching them all coming and eating the seeds. At the end of our visit, we came across an excellent adventure playground. There is plenty for kids to play on and even on a cold day our son didn’t want to leave. There is something to suit all ages and it’s a lovely area to stop for a picnic.

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve

Other things to do at the nature reserve include pond dipping. They have four different areas for pong dipping. There is also a boardwalk alongside the water, den building, tree shaking, deadwood hunting, a mud hut and meadow sweeping.

We didn’t have time to investigate and I’m not entirely sure what some of those things are but it all sounds like fun. It’s nice that they have gone to so much effort for the younger visitors. I wish all RSPB nature reserves were like this. It is a great place for families to visit and for children to get outdoors and learn more about nature.

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve Review Guide

RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve FAQ & Further Information

Address: Seaton Carew Rd, Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough TS2 1TU, North Yorkshire

Category – Nature Reserve – Mostly Outdoors – Suitable for all ages.

What are the ticket prices?

FREE for members of the RSPB. For non-members, it’s just £3 for an adult and £1.50 for a child age 5-17. Under 5s are free and the first child is also free so we only paid £6.

What are the main facilities and things to do?

Nature reserve with 5 circular trails, bird hides, sculptures, welly splash, water play, playground, pond dipping and more. There are toilets and a cafe.

When are they open?

They are open almost all year round with just 5 days of closure over Christmas and New Year.

Is there food available?

There is a cafe serving hot and cold food and drinks.

Is there parking?

There is free parking.

Are they dog friendly?

Only registered assistance dogs are permitted.

Are they accessible?

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