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Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre

Visitors can enjoy walks on Essex Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserve; with stunning panoramic views across the Reservoir and surrounding villages as well as superb views of the water’s edge from three accessible bird hides.

The Nature Reserve has a 900m accessible circular footpath which takes you through a variety of habitats including grassland and scrub areas; there are wheelchairs available for use from the centre. A Brambly Hedge Wooden Sculpture Trail and our ‘Middleditch’ Wild Play Area are the perfect place for our younger visitors to enjoy being outdoors.

The Visitor Centre offers our ‘Skylark Tearoom’ which is open daily from 9.30am-4pm (with hot food cooked until 3.30pm) and provides a varied selection of delicious hot and cold food most of which is locally sourced; easy access toilets & baby changing facilities; a well-stocked gift shop which has binoculars, telescopes, bird food, feeders and a range of wildlife inspired gifts.

Essex Wildlife Trust runs a programme of events throughout the year for all ages as well as children’s outdoor birthday parties and a weekly toddler group available during term time; booking is required for all of our events.

Essex Wildlife Trust is a charity and relies on donations to carry out its work for the wildlife and people of Essex; there is suggested entry donation of £2 for Adults £1 for children and £5 family.

The huge expanse of Essex & Suffolk Water’s Abberton Reservoir plays host to some 40,000 wetland birds each year all attracted to the shallow muddy margins and large areas of rough grassland, which provide the ultimate habitat for a plethora of wildlife and waterfowl. Access to the site can be gained on permissive footpaths, which take you to several viewing areas providing stunning views across the water and surrounding countryside.

The Visitor Centre is 6 miles SW of Colchester on the B1026 (a minor road linking Colchester and Maldon) just South of Layer de la Haye - follow the brown and white "Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre" signs.

Walking information

Various routes around the reserve and reservoir; please call in and ask for details.


At Abberton Visitor Centre we have a BOMA, an all-terrain electric wheelchair, which is a great way for anyone with a disability or injury to still get out and enjoy the countryside. 
We give an induction on how to use the BOMA safely to all new users.
If you are interested in booking the BOMA or for more information, please contact us at the centre on 01206 738172. We ask for a suggested donation of £3 per use.

Restricted Dog Access: Dogs are only permitted in the car park and not on the nature reserve; there is short ‘dog walk’ area available within our newly planted woodland, although this is only suitable for a stretch of the legs.

Longer walks are available on permissive footpaths; for more information on these please call into the visitor centre.

We ask that dogs are kept on their leads and owners clear up after their four legged friends.

Assistant dogs only in the visitor centre and on the nature reserve.

Skylark Tearoom

NEW! We're pleased to announce that we are now able to offer an increased range of catering options. 

The Skylark tearoom serves a selection of hot items including breakfast baps, jacket potatoes with various fillings, homemade soups and freshly baked handmade pasties; as well as sandwiches, wraps, panini, toasties and children’s lunch boxes. 

We do of course continue to serve delicious handmade cakes including gluten & diary free, cream teas, toasted teacakes and seasonal homemade bakes and strive to offer something for everyone and aspire to continue to serve & support the visitor centre.




Species and habitats

Grassland, Meadow, Ponds, Wetland, Woodland
Skylark, Brown Hare, Common Tern, Goldeneye

Nearby nature reserves

Abbotts Hall Farm
2 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Roman River Valley Nature Reserve
2 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Ray Island Nature Reserve
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Abberton Reservoir Visitor Centre
Church Rd
Map reference
TL 962 177
Great for...
a family day out
getting away from it all
overwintering birds
spring migrant birds
stunning views
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Opening Times
Visitor Centre & Nature Reserve open daily 9am - 4pm, closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day, Skylark tearoom open 9.30am – 4pm; hot food served until 3.30pm.
Gift shop
Visitor centre
Picnic facilities
Disabled toilet
Baby changing
24.20 hectares

Various routes around the reserve, some are wheelchair friendly. A wheelchair and electric buggy are available for use. Please contact the visitor centre for more information.
Walking information
Various routes around the reserve and reservoir; please call in and ask for details. For more information on dog walking and assistance please see main description.
Parking on site
Guide dogs only
Reserve manager
Essex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01206 738172