Our nature reserve is a wild yet tranquil place where visitors can escape the bustle of the grounds and immerse themselves in a diverse mix of habitats and wildlife. Explore 25 hectares of meadows, woodland, reedbeds, lakes, ponds and more.

Saline Lagoon

WWT Washington’s saline lagoon is an example of one of the UK’s rarest habitats.

It was designed to strengthen the biodiversity of our nature reserve by connecting it to the River Wear and its brackish nature – a mixture of fresh and sea water – provides the ideal salinity levels for a unique range of wetland species.

The lagoon floods at high tides of five metres or more and visitors can see this spectacle when it occurs during opening hours (please check the information board in the admissions area or at the lagoon gates for details).

Wildlife on the lagoon changes across the seasons and includes breeding oystercatcher, teal, shelduck, Eurasian otter and roe deer.

Lagoon View hide

Lagoon View hide opened in May 2016 and gives visitors panoramic and uncompromised views of the regionally rare lagoon, River Wear and reedbed. The 16-sided structure is built of larch wood and features an incredible reciprocal roof - a series of interlocking beams distributing and supporting the weight of the sedum covering. The eco-friendly roof is not only a great habitat for wildlife but also acts as a sound insulator, allowing people to move about freely without disturbing the outside wildlife.

A hide-side pool created to encourage kingfishers has had great success, with regular sightings reported. Other wildlife sightings from the hide include roe deer, wild otters, fox and a variety of birds including little egret, grey heron and lapwing.


More than 5,000 native British species rely on deadwood for survival at some stage in their life cycle. In fact, just one square metreof this increasingly rare habitat can support up to one million insects at any one time!

Our Hollowood exhibit shows just how easily life can thrive in tree stumps, dead branches and old wood.

Join us during the school holidays in spring and summer for one of our mini-beast hunts, which allow visitors to get closer to nature by exploring, examining and identifying the creatures that they unearth.