High Batts is on the banks of the river Ure, and comprises 32 acres of mixed woodland with open clearings. Adjacent is a sand and gravel quarry, with the current extraction site to the south of the Reserve. Across the river is a restored quarrying area with an angling lake and conservation area which attract much wildlife to the area. 

To the west of High Batts is a large area of arable farmland, interspersed with game belts.

Little egret

The Hides & the Viewing Mound

There are three hides at High Batts – the Pond Hide, the Riverside Hide, and the Hotel Hide.

The Pond Hide is on two levels, and overlooks bird feeders and a pond frequented by herons, kingfishers and (occasionally) otters.

The Riverside Hide is a small hide overlooking the river Ure. The Hotel Hide is a little further along the river, and provides a good lookout spot for cormorants, kingfishers, otters and herons.

There is a Viewing Mound with steps up to it and a platform on top, at the north end of the Reserve.

History & Management of the Reserve

High Batts was established in 1973, and is operated by a Board of Charity Trustees. The Charity and Reserve are run entirely by volunteers.

The Reserve is actively managed to optimise biodiversity, and to conserve habitats and species in line with a management strategy agreed with Natural England. We operate a programme of species monitoring to record wildlife and changes on site and publish an annual report.


High Batts is in a part of the Ure Valley underlaid by Magnesian Limestone, which was deposited from a warm, shallow sea over 300 million years ago. Later in geological time, huge quantities of gravel were deposited as the river changed course. These deposits are the basis of the quarry operations here.

Trees & plants

The soils in the Reserve are thin and mildly alkaline; silt is deposited from time to time when the river floods. These soils produce an abundant and diverse flora within a range of habitats – stream; mixed woodland of birch, ash, alder, and willow; hawthorn scrub; and calcareous grassland clearings.


The Reserve has a wealth of insects, attracted by the diverse flora and copious amounts of rotting wood.

Banded demoiselle at High Batts
Banded demoiselle

Butterflies and dragonflies are plentiful with regular undertaken surveys to monitor populations.

Moth trapping has been practised on site since 1983.


Kingfisher at High Batts

A wide variety of bird species has been recorded on the Reserve. The indigenous trees attract three species of woodpeckers, and a good variety and population of tits – especially marsh tits.

An active winter feeding programme supports a population of tree sparrows, yellowhammers and finches.

Over many years of recording, the Reserve has had its share of exciting rarities such as nightjar, wryneck, and pied-billed grebe.

Ringing studies have been taking place on the Reserve since 1986.


Roe deer at High Batts

A wide range of mammal species has been recorded at High Batts, and we monitor populations of small mammals by regular trapping sessions.

Otter at High Batts