Denaby Ings Nature Reserve

Denaby Ings - Peter Dawson

Denaby Ings - Peter Dawson

A wildlife haven with a fantastic mix of habitats, from open water and riverside water meadows to woodland scrub and hedgerows. Within easy reach of the urban areas of Denaby and Mexborough, the reserve bustles with wildlife including kingfishers, goosander and orchids amongst others. Denaby Ings provides a much needed wildlife haven in a landscape scattered with farmland and housing developments.


Pastures Road
South Yorkshire
S64 0JJ

OS Map Reference

A static map of Denaby Ings Nature Reserve

Know before you go

23 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Car park available on Pastures Road.

Grazing animals

Cattle graze the marsh, along with sheep in the meadows and pasture

Walking trails

A footpath around the lake passes two bird hides and a viewing screen to look over the lake.


Steps and narrow paths. Not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.


On a lead


Bird hides

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

August to November


Riverside meadows, dry meadows, open water, woodland scrub and hedgerow habitats are all found at Denaby Ings and support a diverse range of species.

Grey herons sit by the river waiting to strike. In the meadows butterflies are abundant visiting the assorted wildflowers, whereas winter sees flocks of migrant birds including fieldfare and lesser redpoll.

To catch a sight of the wondrous wildlife here spend time in two of the viewing hides which overlook the main marsh and provide excellent sights over the open water of the Ings and the river valley to the wooded crags in the distance. Follow the raised embankment of the old Dearne Valley Railway to reach them. The railway, which was once used to transport coal from the local mines, is now full of the sound of birdsong during the spring and summer.

Close to the River Dearne, the site plays an important role in flood relief - the iron gates of the sluice allow water to escape into the water meadows on the nature reserve when there is severe flooding. Local volunteers and the Trust work to maintain the path and to keep open areas free from scrub. The marsh and meadows are regularly mown and grazed to maintain the habitat for a diversity of species. The water levels in the Ings are monitored and controlled to provide a mix of reedbeds and muddy shoreline attractive to the birds.

Seasonal highlights

  • SpringBirds - Avocet; Sand martin; Sedge warbler; Grasshopper warbler
  • Summer: Plants - Bee orchid; Pyramidal orchid; Common spotted orchid; Reptiles - Grass snake
  • AutumnBirds - Little egret; Common sandpiper; Green sandpiper; Wood sandpiper; Redshank; Greenshank; Black-tailed godwit
  • Winter: Birds - Bittern; Goosander; Siskin


The nature reserve has a long and varied history which can be traced as far back as Roman times, although more recently farming and coal mining has shaped the area.

Mining subsidence has caused permanent open water areas to form where the River Dearne once flowed and these are now rich in aquatic life.

The site was formed by a combination of factors. Sitting on the old course of the Dearne (the straightened new course is adjacent), the river was blocked off by tipping coal spoil from a nearby mine and a large flood gate in an old railway embankment. Thus a lake formed, and associated reedbed and fen fringe to the lake. The creation of this lake allows the silt to be used as emergency flood storage; the Dearne can be diverted along its old course to fill up the nature reserve, with water being slowly released after the peak of the flood. There are a number of fields as well, which are remnant of past land use (almost all of the other land around is now arable) and due to their long history as meadows they contain a large number of species of flowers.


Public transport
Train to Conisbrough or Mexborough from Doncaster, then approximately a 30 minute walk to the nature reserve.

By car
Denaby Ings lies north east of Mexborough. From Mexborough, take the A6023 and turn left down Pastures Road on the outskirts of the town. Follow this north east for 1 mile and then turn right into the car park shortly after crossing the River Dearne