Mere Sands Wood
OS Grid ref:- SD 447 157
Mere Sands Wood situated between the villages of Holmeswood and Rufford is a wildlife-rich haven in the heart of west Lancashire.
The reserve covers an area of 42 hectares (105 acres) and consists of lakes, mature broadleaved and coniferous woodland, sandy, wet meadows and heaths.
The site is of national importantance due to its wildfowl and dragonflies and has a fascinating history. It stands on an area of layered sand and peat, which was deposited by the wind over boulder clay during the last Ice Age, and by periods of water logging following this period. The name 'Mere Sands' dates back to medieval times when the area was on the shore of a large lake known as 'Martin Mere'.
The mature woodland is mainly birch with some oak but there is also a mature Scots Pine plantation in the south-east corner of the reserve, which supports a small population of rare red squirrels. Other mammals that inhabit or visit the reserve include foxes, rabbits, stoats and roe deer.
Winter wildfowl populations at the reserve include nationally important numbers of Gadwall and Teal, as well as Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Goosander. Locally important species include Mandarin Duck and Kingfisher and there are annual sightings of Willow Tit and Lesser-spotted Woodpecker. Breeding species include Great Crested and Little Grebes, Shelduck, Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Duck, alongside Little Ringed Plover and Lapwing. Birds that breed in the woodland include Sparrowhawk, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, and Redpoll alongside the common tit and warbler species. Turtle Dove and Quail breed occasionally.
The well equiped visitor visitor centre, adjoining the car park has literature, toilets and displays. There are six bird hides, a viewing platform and picnictables around the reserve. A number of trails cross the reserve, there is also wheelchair access leading from the car park to two of the hides. The Reserve is managed by The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester & North Merseyside.
Exit the A59 in Rufford onto Holmeswood Road (B5246). After around a mile turn left at the "Nature Reserve" and "Meresands Kennels" signs. The car park is at the end of the lane.