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Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre

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The centre will also be closed on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Janaury for maintance. Access will be availabe to the reserve and toilets.

Providing panoramic views over the 870 acre reservoir. The visitor centre is set in mature woodland and has proved a popular bat roost, with a beautiful carpet of Bluebells in the spring.

A warm welcome will always greet you at Hanningfield reservoir visitor centre.The visitor centre is set in mature woodland and offers superb views over the 870 acre Hanningfield Reservoir. It is an ideal place to view the wildlife within the nature reserve and to receive the latest sightings news. The centre has full disabled access as does the Lyster Bird hide that is a short distance away. There are lots of gifts in the centre shop and a full range of binoculars and telescopes, as well as books and refreshments. So while you're enjoying a nice warming drink you can take time to enjoy the stunning view over the water and browse the display.

The nature reserve offers some beautiful walks through the woodland, taking in bird hides, ponds and views across the reservoir. The site is run in partnership with Essex & Suffolk Water and you can walk through the reserve to the Essex & Suffolk Water Fishing Lodge and the Cafe on the Water. The reservoir itself is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the important numbers of wildfowl that use the reservoir in the autumn and winter, including Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Pochard. The spectacle of thousands of Swifts, Swallows and Martins feeding over the water during peak fly hatches is one of the delights for the summer visitor. 30 acres of the woodland are ancient in origin and spring flowers include carpets of Bluebells and Stitchwort.A colony of Soprano pipistrelle bats use our visitor centre as a maternity roost, spending several months here each year and delighting visitors in the evenings as they head out on their search for food. We run regular bat counts and events where you can learn more about these fascinating mammals.

There are some really good nature trails for all to enjoy and advice is always on hand in the visitor centre, to help identify wildlife and to inform visitors of the best locations to see and experience wildlife. A trail guide is available from the visitor centre to help you around the reserve.

In 2015 we installed the Wind in the Willows Trail for children. Buy the special map at the visitor centre and then head out to look for the five wooden Wind in the Willows sculptures on the reserve. At each sculpture you can use the back of the map to make your very own brass rubbings of Badger, the Weasels, Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad

Visitor Centre Facilities

Our facilities include a charming refreshment area and gift shop offering light refreshments, toys, books, birdfeeders and feed, greeting cards and an excellent range of binoculars and other optic equipment. We also provide toilets, a disabled access toilet with a baby changing facilities, a wheelchair and a high chair.
The viewing area gives superb views out over the reservoir and the feeding stations so you can relax and enjoy some refreshments while watching the wildlife.

Room for Hire at Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre

An ideal venue for seminars, meetings, training workshops and corporate events. Set against the wonderful backdrop of an 870 acre reservoir and 100 acre woodland reserve! Seats 50 conference style and 30 board room style. Facilities available include: cloakroom, pull down projector screen, laptop and projector (subject to availability), teas and coffees available at £1.00 per cup. Approximate size: 9 metres x 5.5 metres. Phone 01268 711001 for further details and to book.


Species and habitats

Meadow, Ponds, Woodland
Bluebell, Long-tailed Tit

Nearby nature reserves

Crowsheath Wood Nature Reserve
0 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Shotgate Thickets Nature Reserve
3 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust
Woodham Fen Nature Reserve
5 miles - Essex Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre
Hawkswood Road, Downham
CM11 1WT
Map reference
TQ 725 971
Great for...
a family day out
getting away from it all
overwintering birds
spring flowers
spring migrant birds
stunning views
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
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Opening Times
Open Daily 9am - 5pm (November, December & January 9am - 4pm)

Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day

Suggested Entrance Donation
£2 per adult, £1 per child or £5 per family
Gift shop
Visitor centre
Picnic facilities
Disabled toilet
Baby changing
40.00 hectares

Various routes around the reserve, no watersports or cycles permitted on the reserve. Contact the Trust for more information.
Walking information
No dogs allowed - dogs can be walked at the nearby Crowsheath Wood or Crowsheath Community Woodland.
Parking on site
Guide dogs only
Reserve manager
Essex Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01268 711001