This June, why not grab a “ticket to your happy place” thanks to the National Lottery and enjoy all that our reserves have to discover? With special offers and free entry at participating venues, read on to find out more about the offers and how the money raised through the National Lottery has benefitted nature and people in England.  

Header image: A family enjoys RSPB Old Moor

Image: views across RSPB Ham Wall towards Glastonbury Tor. Credit: Colin Wilkinson

Did you know that by playing the National Lottery, you can help wildlife? With £30 million raised for good causes every week, here at the RSPB we’ve had fantastic funding over the years to make a real difference on our nature reserves.

To say thank you to players, the National Lottery is offering a ‘Ticket to Your Happy Place’ during Open Week from 5-13 June 2021, with special offers and free entry at participating venues. We’re delighted that several of our nature reserves in England are taking part, including:

  • RSPB Ham Wall Nature Reserve, Somerset: Explore winding paths through the Avalon Marshes for a chance to hear the boom of the bittern or see the iridescent colours of kingfishers and dragonflies. What's more, thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), along with our partners, a whole host of wildlife can be seen from the fantastic Avalon hide, giving views across the marshes to Glastonbury Tor and beyond.
  • RSPB Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve, Sussex: With beautiful views across the South Downs and rich nature experiences, listen out for the sweet song of the nightingale or the call of the lapwing as they tumble and loop over the wetlands in their acrobatic display. A patchwork of wetland, heathland and woodland in the Arun Valley, NLHF funding has helped us extend this nature reserve, restore habitats and improve public access for visitors to enjoy.
  • RSPB Rye Meads Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire: This delightful wetland reserve beside the River Lee is a firm favourite with families, walkers, birdwatchers and photographers alike thanks to its many trails and hides. Look out for a flash of blue as kingfishers flit past the reedbeds or cast your eyes to the skies for hobbies and kestrels as they swoop overhead.

Image: Visitors enter RSPB Pulborough Brooks. Credit: Eleanor Bentall

  • RSPB Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve, Norfolk: Blessed with diverse habitats to inspire many a visitor, take a walk through this mosaic of beach, reedbeds, saltmarsh and freshwater lagoons on a quest to spot the emblematic avocet, bearded tits perching on swaying reeds, or the impressive swooping flight of the marsh harrier.
  • RSPB Sandwell Valley Nature Reserve, West Midlands: In the heart of the Midlands, this oasis is home to a host of wildlife which buzzes across it's lake and ponds and thrives amongst the beautiful wildflower meadow and serene woodland. Thanks to NLHF funding, the site's visitor centre has been regenerated, inspiring many more nature connections than ever before. Why not pop there to discover more?
  • RSPB Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve, Lincolnshire: Teeming with wildlife across a variety of habitats, Frampton Marsh provides close views of the abundant birdlife of The Wash, one of Europe's most special places for wildlife. Avocets and other wading birds can be spotted here, as well as water voles, otters and boxing brown hares. Encouraging visitors to get active in nature through NLHF funding, the site is popular with birdwatchers, walkers and cyclists alike.

Image: Views across the lake at RSPB Sandwell Valley. Credit: Andy Purcell

  • RSPB Dearne Valley Old Moor Nature Reserve, South Yorkshire: Set in an ex-coal mining area, this transformational reserve is now home to a host of wonderful species including elusive bitterns, rare willow tits, barn owls and breeding marsh harriers to name but a few. Not just for wildlife, but for people too, recent NLHF funding is also helping to connect even more people with nature through events and improved visitor facilities, including wild play zones and wellbeing trails.
  • RSPB St Aidan's Nature Park, West Yorkshire: While exploring this stunning park, have your camera at the ready for amazing views and wonderful wildlife. Look out for avocets and skylarks, dazzling dragonflies and grasslands alive with bees, butterflies and wildflowers.
  • RSPB Fairburn Ings Nature Reserve, West Yorkshire: Nearby, discover wetland habitats set amongst lagoons, woodland and grasslands, all alive with wildlife. Herons may be spotted near the water's edge seeking their next meal, while kingfishers can regularly be viewed too.

Image: A family birdwatch at RSPB Leighton Moss. Credit: Darren Andrews

  • RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands Nature Reserve, Cheshire: Bursting with wildlife, this mosaic of freshwater wetland habitats, mixed farmland and woodland is a treat to explore. It was created thanks to NLHF funding. Hosting eye-catching avocets, noisy warblers, screaming swifts and the aerobatic displays of marsh harriers, keen-eyed visitors may also spot water voles and common lizards.
  • RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve, Lancashire: From birds and bugs to bats and otters, there is something new to discover with every visit from this reserve's nature trails and sensory garden. Get a bird's-eye view of the wildlife that calls Leighton Moss home thanks to NLHF funding - climb the 9 metre high skytower viewing platform or check out one of six hides for a chance to spot marsh harriers, red deer and a beautiful array of marsh flowers.
  • RSPB Saltholme Nature Reserve, Tees Valley: These family-friendly wetlands’ hides and screens let you get up close to wildlife such as water rail, yellow wagtails and Not only this, but, alongside the family discovery zone, previous NLHF funding allowed over 10,000 people to have a "date with seals" at nearby Greatham Creek, creating new nature connections with some very special visitors.

Image: The visitor centre at RSPB Saltholme

Not only has lottery funding helped to shape a fantastic array of our reserves across the country, but in September, The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded funding to the RSPB through its Heritage Emergency Fund. Aiming to help charities recover from a loss of revenue and the additional costs incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the programme enabled us to keep people connected to nature at a critical time.

Funding secured through the Heritage Emergency Fund was used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), screens and sanitiser to ensure the health and safety of our teams and visitors. We put in place welcome huts, tepees and interpretation across the country to orientate visitors around our nature reserves. We modified our outdoor and take-away café facilities and extended our digital marketing to further connect people to nature too. This all meant that we were able to largely keep our nature reserves open for local people to take their daily exercise through lockdown and are delighted to be welcoming back those from further afield more recently.

Image: Children enjoy the views across RSPB Titchwell Marsh

Help from home

The many projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund over the years prove that every penny counts, with every National Lottery ticket you buy making a difference to causes like ours.

Without National Lottery players, and our incredible members, much of the exciting developments and conservation work on our reserves, like those above and more, would not have been possible. If you want to make a lasting difference here at the RSPB, why not become a member today for as little as £5? By becoming a member of the RSPB, you’ll gain free access to over 200 reserves across the UK all year round, plus free copies of our wildlife packed magazine, Nature’s Home.

Already a member? Thank you for your support, we couldn’t do this without you. Why not introduce one of your friends to what an RSPB reserve can offer for free this June by taking part in the National Lottery’s open week at participating reserves?

#Thankstoyou, our nature reserves continue to be a haven for both wildlife and people alike. To find out more about the reserves offering a “ticket to your happy place” in conjunction with the National Lottery, see here