Lake with swans during sunset

Sandwell Valley Conservation and Nature

Sandwell Valley Country Park is home to 4 local nature reserves, ancient woods, lakes, animals and wildlife, and the RSPB Sandwell Valley site. Our local nature reserves include unique habitats for birds, wildlife, insects, trees as old as 250 years, and fauna and flora including rare flowers, special meadows, and more. Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre is a place for countryside education, with our own Victorian Kitchen Garden, Rabbit Village, Bug Hotel, Giant Wormery, Live Composter, Bee Hives and Bee Education Tour. Forge Mill Farm cares for Rare Breed animals, with over 300 animals currently. 

Forge Mill Lake Local Nature Reserve

Forge Mill Lake Nature Reserve is alongside the River Tame located within Sandwell Valley Country Park. Pathways, a cycleway, and bridleway lead from the lake to other areas of grassland and young woodland. Hedgerows and areas of scrub link these habitats to provide a rich and varied place for wildlife, which is some 63 hectares in size. A footpath runs around the lake to provide access routes to the Sandwell Valley RSPB Reserve.

The lake is an excellent place to see a variety of wildfowl and other species. Lapwings, little ringed plovers (and in 2007 and 2008, oystercatchers) breed on the lake alongside moorhens, coots, mallards, mute swans, Canada geese and great crested grebes.

In winter, goosander, shoveler, wigeon, teal, pochard, lapwing, snipe and water rail are all present alongside the more common species. In Spring and autumn, many migrants pass through and there is always the chance of a rarity turning up. Numerous butterflies and dragonflies can be seen around the Reserve during the summer and the Reserve also hosts an abundance of other insect species.


Foxes and grey squirrels are two of the most common mammals on the reserve, although water voles may be seen along the river or on the lake.

In spring and summer, wild flowers are much in evidence with cowslips, ramsons and southern marsh orchids amongst the many species.

Sot's Hole Local Nature Reserve

Sot’s Hole has over 5 hectares of some of the oldest woodland in Sandwell. The largely wet woodland supports a variety of tree species. A stream flows through the site and a small pool has recently been created.


A surfaced path leads through the reserve, linking up with other paths leading into Sandwell Valley Country Park.


A variety of woodland bird species can be found, and the wet nature of the woodland supports plants such as water horsetail and marsh thistle. Sots Hole looks particularly spectacular in Spring, when much of the drier part of the wood is carpeted with bluebells.

Priory Woods Local Nature Reserve

Priory Woods has over 21 hectares of mature woodland, pools and grassland. Footpaths pass through different wildlife habitats, linking up with other areas of interest in the Country Park. The woodlands support a variety of native trees including some introduced exotic species. There is a varied age structure with some sweet chestnuts approaching 250 years of age.


Breeding birds in the woodlands include great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, and stock dove. The islands on Ice House Pool support a heronry, and on the pools, a variety of wildfowl. The waters are rich in invertebrates, with dragonflies and damselflies during the summer. Wild flowers include cowslip, southern marsh orchid, bluebell, and ramsons.

Sandwell Valley Bees

Our own honey is produced by Sandwell Valley Bees, who live on site in over 10 hives at Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre. You can watch our bees doing their vital work, learn about how bees live, and buy their honey. 

Victorian Kitchen Garden

Garden with yellow flowers and park benches

Our Victorian Kitchen Garden is home to home grown plants, fruit and veg, including those rarely produced. We also have bug hotels, a giant wormery to show how worms work, and a live composter. 

Animal Welfare

Animal welfare is key to what we do at Forge Mill Farm, Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre, and in our nature reserves across the country park. You can visit our rare breed animals, rescued rabbits, and many birds and wildlife.

Swan Pool

Swan Pool started life as a mill pond, before being extended twice, first to take the extra water being pumped out of the mine and later as a leisure facility.

Sandwell Valley RSPB Reserve

The RSPB site is based around part of Forge Mill Lake within Sandwell Valley Country Park. The RSPB visitor centre sits in the heart of the Forge Mill Local Nature reserve with views over forge mill lake; here you can pick up self-guided family activities, such as pond dipping nets or just pick up a map and a hot drink. There are paths and trails to follow and a lakeside viewpoint where you can enjoy the wetland wildlife.


Forge Mill Farm

Home to rare breeds of animals, from sheep to alpacas, our farm is a great place to bring your family or school.

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