England is home to 224 National Nature Reserves which showcase some of the most diverse wildlife and interesting geographical sites across the country.
These sites help to protect and develop habitats and offer a unique opportunity for the public to experience England's natural beauty.
Our National Cycle Network takes you to many of the reserves. We have picked a few of our favourites:
National Route 535 takes you right through the reserve. Just six miles to the north of Birmingham city centre this landscape is a vibrant mixture of heathland, woodlands, wetlands, marshes and lakes. The area is rich with a variety of plants and wildlife, some rarely seen in the region. Look out for the wild ponies which can be seen grazing throughout the year.
The Wells and Holkam Circuit takes you through the Holkham Nature Reserve and is part of Route 1. The reserve has a spectacular 11 mile stretch of fragile windswept coastline, including a maze of creeks and marshes, unspoilt sand dunes and tranquil pine forests, which provides a home for many rare and important wildlife species.
National Route 45 runs through the centre of the reserve, connecting Avebury and Marlborough. Fyfield Down is home to Britain’s best collection of sarsen stones which are part of the Avebury World Heritage Site. There are 25,000 of these large boulders which have been formed from siliceous sandstone.
National Route 99 takes you to the entrance of the Murlough National Nature Reserve. The reserve is a 6,000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust. It is an excellent area for walking and bird watching due to its spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.
National Route 2 passes through Pevensey Levels which form part of a large grazing marsh and is home to many species of wetland bird. Whenever you visit, you are likely to spot grey heron, cormorant, mute swan, Canada goose, mallard, coot, moorhen and, if you are lucky, the more elusive species, such as kingfisher or water rail.
National Route 72 runs along the Stanegate, a public road forming the northern boundary to Muckle Moss. A fantastic ‘peat-bog’ that has a carpet of multicoloured mosses, cotton grass and heather and is surrounded by heath, woodland and grassland. There are abundant dragonflies and you may see large heath and green hairstreak butterflies. Breeding birds include curlew and snipe, as well as adders, are often seen basking in spring sunshine.