Skip to main content

Wilder Idle Valley

A stunning mosaic of wildlife-rich wetland habitats where we are bringing back lost keystone species on our land and working with farmers to help restore nature to the wider Valley

Wild Idle Valley wetland
 © Credit: Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust are bringing back wildness to the Idle Valley from Retford to West Stockwith – so that everyone who lives and works there can once again experience calling curlew, flocks of Whooper swans, and a more natural river full of water voles, otters and beavers. Within this complex mosaic of farmland, peatlands and settlements, they are working with landowners to bring back key species such as water voles throughout the landscape, and are restoring habitats for a wide range of species including breeding waders and turtle doves. 

The largest reserves in the area are the 375ha Idle Valley Nature Reserve, a complex wetland landscape of lakes, reedbed, wet woodland, grassland and marsh, now with two breeding families of beavers, and our 90ha Misson Carr Nature Reserve, which is the last remaining peat fen in Nottinghamshire and one of the few sites left in the County for breeding lesser spotted woodpecker and turtle dove.


Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust are introducing animals to influence the land, rather than people. Beavers have been introduced to a 58ha enclosure in the Idle Valley Nature Reserve to tackle scrub and restructure scrub and wet plantation woodland to benefit a wide range of other species. They have expanded their herd of Longhorn cattle to manage the wet grassland and marsh, and also a newly restored wood pasture. 

At Misson Carr, wilder grazing with longhorns has been expanded to create a mosaic of habitats, using No Fence collars. A total of 3500m of ditches have been restored to bring water back into the fen. 

Nature-Based Enterprises

The Wildlife Trust run popular beaver tours and have a successful cafe and shop at the Idle Valley Reserve. They hope to expand this programme for other nature-tourism activities. Other private operators run bird tours.

  • Wild Idle Valley beaver
     © Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
  • Wilder Idle Valley
     © Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
  • Idle Valley
     © Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust
  • Idle Valley gallery
     © Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

future plans

  1. Expanding the number and species of herbivores managing habitats and driving natural processes.
  2. Bringing back water voles, and expanding the current beaver population
Wild Idle Valley wetland
 © Credit: Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

The Rewilding Network

The Rewilding Network is the go-to place for projects across Britain to connect, share and make rewilding happen on land and sea.

Discover the Rewilding Network

More about Wilder Idle Valley

Find out more about Wilder Idle Valley on their website.

Visit Wilder Idle Valley website