Orange tip butterfly > Wakehurst > What to see at Wakehurst > Loder Valley Nature Reserve

Loder Valley Nature Reserve

Get a close look at over 300 plant species as well as dormice, badgers, kingfishers and butterflies in our 40 acre nature reserve.

About the reserve

Wildlife abounds in this haven of peace and tranquillity where you can settle down in one of our hides and observe nature at it finest.

Dormice, wildflowers, the marsh tit and butterflies flourish in the Loder Valley Nature Reserve. Kingfishers can often be seen beside Westwood Lake.

The reserve consists of a matrix of habitats including wetlands, meadows and wealden woodland. Bird hides allow you to view a wealth of species including herons, ospreys, hobbies and little egrets.

Marsh tit
Loder Valley

Visiting the reserve

A permit is required to visit the reserve and a map is essential – pick up both from Wakehurst's Visitor Centre.

Sensible shoes should be worn - and a pair of binoculars and a camera would be a good addition for your visit. Photography here must be for personal use only.

Be respectful to all wildlife you encounter. It is an offence to knowingly disturb kingfishers close to their nests during breeding season. 

Nature trails

Red trail

A beautiful walk around part of the Ardingly Reservoir, which passes through woodland and meadowland. There are several bird hides, with one giving excellent views of a specially-built sandy bank that attracts breeding kingfishers. Beyond a footbridge across the head of the reservoir is Hanging Meadow which has wonderful wildflowers in spring and summer and rich insect life - just as it was before the invention of modern herbicides.  

Green trail

A more strenuous walk, almost entirely through woodland. There are some steep woodland slopes, which lead to impressive views across the valley. The undergrowth of brambles and hazels provides both dense cover and food for the native hazel dormouse, for which Wakehurst is enthusiastically helping The Dormouse Recovery Programme. There are 300 dormouse nesting boxes in the reserve, which are monitored by Wakehurst rangers. 

Pick up a trail map from Wakehurst's Visitor Centre.


The reserve is managed for the benefit of the wildlife that lives there. Regular coppicing, hedge-laying, ride-widening and meadow-mowing all contribute to the biodiversity of the area. 

Ecologists record the effects of any activity on the flora and fauna as part of the management of this area.

Head to Wakehurst's Visitor Centre to pick up a permit for the Loder Valley Nature Reserve and see for yourself the stunning results of these conservation efforts.