Located on the banks of the river Ure, High Batts comprises 32 acres of mixed woodland with open clearings, bordered on the west by a large area of arable farmland interspersed with game belts. A sand and gravel quarry operates across the river, to the north of the Reserve. Restoration of parts of this working quarry has led to the creation of an angling lake and conservation area. There are two hides on the Reserve together with a viewing mound. The members’ hut, known as “The Hotel”, is currently being converted to act as another hide.
The part of the Ure valley in which the Reserve is situated is underlaid by Magnesian Limestone which was deposited from a warm and shallow sea over 300 million years ago. Later in geological time huge deposits of gravel occurred, caused by the river changing course, and these deposits are the basis of the surrounding sand and gravel extraction industry. This has resulted in thin layers of mildly alkaline soils in the Reserve area, which produce an abundant and diverse flora within a range of habitats including stream, mixed woodland of birch, ash, alder, willow, etc., hawthorn scrub, and calcareous grassland clearings. The Reserve is subject to flooding by the river, resulting in deposits of silt from time to time.
A wide variety of bird species has been recorded within the Reserve. The open indigenous tree species attract three species of Woodpeckers and a good variety and population of tits especially Marsh tits. An active winter feeding programme attracts healthy populations of Tree sparrows, Yellowhammers, and finches, and particularly during the winter, up to 10 Marsh tits. Over many years of recording, the Reserve has had its share of exciting rarities such as Nightjar, Wryneck, Pied-billed grebe and Great white egret. Ringing studies have been taking place on the Reserve since 1986. The Reserve has a wealth of insects attracted by the diverse flora and copious amounts of dead and rotting wood. Some 24 species of butterfly have been recorded. Moth trapping has been practised since 1983 and the total species recorded has now reached over 500. There are up to 16 species of dragonfly on the Reserve.
The mixed woodland, scrub, streams and pools, and grassland clearings provide habitats throughout the year for a wide variety of plants and fungi. A wide range of mammal species is on record, and regular small mammal trapping sessions monitor populations. There are five species of amphibians recorded.