Bittern

(c) Jamie Hall

Famed for its wetland birds including bitterns and marsh harriers, Potteric Carr has a network of paths enabling visitors to explore the mosaic of habitats and enjoy the stunning vistas. With excellent facilities including tearoom, shop, toilets and hides it really is a great place to visit.

Location

Mallard Way (nr junction 3 M18, south edge of Doncaster)
Doncaster
South Yorkshire
DN4 8DB

OS Map Reference

SE588005
A static map of Potteric Carr Nature Reserve

Know before you go

Size
200 hectares

Entry fee

Access to the visitor centre and café is free. Entry onto the reserve incurs a fee. Day ticket prices: Wildlife Trust members free; adult £4.50; family £11 (two adults and four children under 16); concession £3.50; child £3.00.

Parking information

Car park by the visitor centre, and a small overflow car park on the opposite side of the Mallard Way.

Grazing animals

Cattle and Hebridean sheep

Walking trails

Permissive footpaths and waymarked trails.

Access

All footpaths, except a few unsurfaced trails, are wheelchair and pushchair friendly.

Dogs

Guide dogs only

Facilities

Visitor centre
Bird hides
Toilets
Shop
Cafe/refreshments
Picnic area
Disabled toilet
Baby changing facilities
Wifi

When to visit

Opening times

Open 9am, last entry 5pm. The tearoom is open 7 days a week, 10am to 4pm, and food is served until 3pm. The café opens at 9am everyday - drinks and cake available till 3pm to 4pm.

Best time to visit

Year Round

About

Potteric Carr is an area of low-lying land to the south east of Doncaster which forms the floodplain of the River Torne. The site is fabulous for birdwatching with marsh and water birds being particularly numerous. Over 230 species of birds have been recorded and 102 species have bred, with over 65 species breeding each year. A major extension to the site was designed to enhance this and has already resulted in breeding marsh harriers and bitterns. Spring and autumn are exciting times as a wide range of migrant birds can arrive at any time.

Potteric Carr's marshes support a wide range of plants providing a spectacle of colour throughout the summer. Plants include greater and lesser spearwort, water soldier, water violet and Southern marsh orchid. The disused railway embankments, constructed from magnesian limestone, encourage plants such as common spotted and bee orchids and old man's beard, Britain's only wild clematis.

Great crested and palmate newts are present in some of the pools and toads are common. Mammals include water shrew, water vole, harvest mouse and roe deer. The nature reserve is excellent for insects and other invertebrates too, with impressive lists of moths, spiders, beetles, bugs and hoverflies. Purple hairstreak and brown argus are among the 28 species of butterfly to have been seen, with 21 species of dragonfly noted.

Begin your journey at the Potteric Carr visitor centre. Find out more.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - Colt's foot; Birds - Black-necked grebe; Marsh harrier; Little ringed plover; Avocet
  • Summer: Plants - Purple loosestrife; Southern marsh orchid; Birds - Green sandpiper; Invertebrates - Banded demoiselle; Brown argus
  • Autumn: Birds - Little egret; Teal; Gadwell; Willow tit; Mammals - Roe Deer
  • Winter: Birds - Bittern

History

The mosaic of habitats we see today is largely due to management work by the Trust's staff and its hardworking volunteers. In the 16th Century the area was a small part of the Hatfield Royal Deer Chase but it eventually fell out of favour due to being continuously flooded. Over a period of 150 years various attempts were made at draining the area, the final successful attempt being in the 1760s. In the 1950s coal seams from Rossington Colliery penetrated under the area. Over the next 15 years, as subsidence occurred, the fen conditions returned together with the associated wildlife.

In 1968, a small area (13 ha) was declared a nature reserve by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Over time the area of the site was gradually increased by purchase or lease and, in 2005, was extended to 200 ha when a further 75 ha of former farmland was purchased and major developments took place to improve habitats and visitor facilities and create a new extensive marsh.

Directions

Public transport
Regular buses run from the Frenchgate Interchange in Doncaster to Lakeside and the White Rose Way. Alight by B&Q, opposite Onecall and cross the White Rose Way at the traffic lights. The nearest train station is Doncaster.

By car
Coming from Doncaster take the White Rose Way (A6182), at the roundabout follow the directions for the M18. Potteric Carr Nature Reserve is signposted. From the A1 (southbound) come off at Junction 35 for the M18, then take Junction 3 towards Doncaster and follow signs for the A6182 (White Rose Way). At the first set of lights you reach, turn right into Mallard Way. Park at the visitor centre car park.

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