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About Rye Meads

Visitors to RSPB Rye Meads Nature Reserve, Hertfordshire

Image: RSPB Images: Eleanor Bentall

For a great family trip, visit this delightful wetland reserve beside the River Lee. Rye Meads is a favourite with walkers, birdwatchers and photographers too. There are wheelchair-friendly trails, and 10 hides (come just to see the amazing murals!) look out over the reedbeds, wet meadows, open water and artificial sandbanks, which are a great place to spot the blue flash of a kingfisher.

Common terns nest on specially-created rafts during the summer, and these days you're likely to hear the explosive song of the Cetti's warbler, a recent arrival here. If it is wildlife really close you are after, then butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies put on quite a show.

In winter, you can often see snipe, green sandpipers, shovelers, gadwalls and tufted ducks – in fact, there's always something to entertain you here. We have a really welcoming visitor centre, where you can watch the bird feeding area for close-up views of garden birds.

Families can borrow Explorer Backpacks to give children hours of fun learning about birds, wildlife and the environment, and we have a busy events programme offering something for everyone.

Opening times

Daily 9 am-5 pm (or dusk if earlier). Gates are locked when the reserve closes. Please note that the reserve is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Entrance charges

Entry is free. There is a £3 car parking charge for non members. RSPB members park free, but please remember to display your membership card on your vehicle dashboard.

If you are new to birdwatching...

Hides provide excellent views of birds. A varied programme of events is ongoing throughout the year, suitable for all. See Events section for more details.

Information for families

Hides provide excellent views of birds that can be seen by eye, enabling children to see wildlife. Special Explorer Backpacks are available for free loan during your visit and there is a comprehensive programme of events, including playschemes, guided walks and family fun days.

Information for dog owners

No dogs allowed, except registered assistance dogs

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 51.77410,0.01183
  • Postcode: SG12 8JS
  • Grid reference: TL389103
  • Nearest town: Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire
  • County: Hertfordshire
  • Country: England

Get directions

Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.

Living classrooms