Batford Springs LOCAL Nature Reserve

Size: 8.5 Hectares

Habitats: Chalk Stream, River, Reed Fen, Wet Woodland, Meadow

Accessibility: Good accessibility across the majority of the reserve

Facilities: play park, picnic benches, woodland boardwalk, riverside path

Walking time: 30- 60 minutes

Batford Springs Local Nature Reserve comprises a mosaic of habitats including a rare chalk lined stream, reed fen, wet woodland, meadows, hedgerows and the River Lea. This incredible green space is celebrated not just because it is an outstanding community asset, but also because of its importance to biodiversity, both within Harpenden and world-wide. Since we aquired the Reserve we have made huge investments including to the area's habitats and as a place for people of all ages to visit. The Nature Reserve also boasts a play park, accessible walking route, picnic benches and information boards.

Read about the importance of Batford Springs Local Nature Reserve in our recent press release:

"Hertfordshire Town Champions Rare Chalk Stream, one of the World's Rarest Habitats".


This open space is managed by Harpenden Town Council with much of the day-to-day enhancements of the habitats undertaken by Batford Springs Volunteers.
You can read our Management Plan for Batford Springs Nature Reserve here.



The site is based on a former watercress farm. In 1830 five boreholes were drilled, to provide a constant flow of water from the aquifer below, to feed the farm. The resulting chalk stream is a rarity, with only 200 in the world. The streams were last commercially farmed in 1950. In 1995, the area was accredited as a Reserve by Natural England and the site has been managed by Harpenden Town Council since 2012, with conservation support by the Batford Springs Volunteers.


Why is Batford Springs Important?

Batford Springs forms part of the Upper Lea Catchment and is an integral part of the River Lea ecological corridor, which provides essential transit opportunities for various species of wildlife. Here you will have the opportunity to spot all kinds of wildlife ranging from birds and bats to reptiles, amphibians and fish. Additionally, the site offers an immaculate green space for residents of all ages to enjoy nature and the fresh air. Batford Springs Nature Reserve is managed to support biodiversity, you can find out how we are managing the Reserve through our current Management Plan.  


What can you do at Batford Springs?

Whether an avid nature enthusiast or a family looking for a day out, there is plenty you can see and do at Batford Springs. Here are just a few things you can enjoy when visiting the Reserve:

  • have a family picnic or lunch next to the beautiful river
  • visit the play park with apparatus suited for children up to the age of 13
  • look out for nature, see what you can spot in each of our fascinating habitats on site
  • take a walk and enjoy the fresh air, experience the newly installed boardwalk and enjoy the wet woodland
  • bring a net or bucket and try river dipping, investigate mini beasts and water plants
  • follow our information boards (see map) and learn about this wonderful nature reserve.



Chalk Stream

This very rare habitat is home to an interesting array of critters, the clear water rarely freezes as the stream maintains a constant temperature of 8 degrees Celsius, which makes it an ideal habitat for invertebrates and fish. The clear gravel bed makes a perfect place for these creatures to take refuge, lay eggs and forage for food. The stream is fed by an underwater aquifer and as you walk across the boardwalk, if you look closely enough, you can see a number of pipes that pump water from the aquifer below into the stream.


River Lea

The River Lea runs for 42 miles (68km) connecting Luton to London and provides a vital ecological corridor made up of various habitats and is a valuable transit opportunity for biodiversity. The footbridge, across the river, is an ideal place to spot different species of fish. See if there are any feeding at the bottom of the riverbed or darting across the surface.


Wet Woodland

Wet woodlands are often found within floodplains, alongside lakes, adjacent to rivers, or anywhere where the soil is frequently waterlogged. Trees at Batford Springs are mainly water tolerant species such as willow, alder and poplar. The woodland ground and understory, often covered with deadwood and debris, might appear untidy but this feature is vital for the wet woodland ecosystem as it provides shelter and foraging opportunities for species who like dark and damp environments. Keep your eyes peeled here for woodpeckers, bats and reptiles.



The Reedfen, which was funded by the Harpenden Trust, is the newest habitat introduced to this Nature Reserve. it is an area of still water, with varying depths to encourage a diverse range of plants and animals including wading birds, amphibians and dragonflies. The introduction of this area was a collaboration between Harpenden Town Council, Batford Springs Volunteers and the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust.


Wildflower Meadow

Wildflower meadows have faced a drastic loss in coverage over the past 100 years through intensification of agriculture and changes to land use. At Batford Springs, our newly acquired meadows are now being managed to improve the floral diversity of the area in order to attract insects including butterflies, bees and grasshoppers. This in turn improves the site for small mammals and amphibians. Come and visit during different seasons to find a range of exciting plants and insects.


How to find Batford Springs

The Reserve lies at the northern end of Station Road (B652).  It is a 20-minute walk from the train station and can be reached via bus services within the Town Centre. Parking is available in Marquis Lane car park, Lower Luton Road car park (opposite the petrol station) and in the Lower Luton Road layby.


Batford Springs Volunteers

Batford Springs Volunteers is a group of individuals of all backgrounds and ages who come together twice a month to provide support to Harpenden Town Council in the development and maintenance of the Batford Springs Local Nature Reserve. It is a very friendly group and welcome all support and help; no previous experience required!  If you would like to find out more about volunteering at Batford Springs please contact the Group by email: or read more on their Facebook page: Batford Springs Volunteers - BSV 

Batford Springs Nature Reserve Primary Featured Image Batford Springs Nature Reserve Secondary Featured Image


11/07/2024 12:49
Dementia Friendly Talk - new date

A new date for our free Dementia Friends talk by our Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador has just been announced: 14th October 2024. This event is suitable for anyone who would like to strengthen their knowledge of this condition and is an ideal opportunity to ask questions.

24/01/2024 09:02
Rare Chalk Stream in local Nature Reservve

Batford Springs Local Nature Reserve in Harpenden has long been a locally treasured green space but, with the development of an ambitious Management Plan, Harpenden Town Council is focused on maintaining and enhancing this outstanding area as a hugely important national asset.