Hanningfield Reservoir Nature Discovery Park
After the government’s announcement of a third mandatory lockdown, we are closing all Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Discovery Centres. The site will be closed on Saturdays & Sundays. The nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise on Mondays-Fridays, from 9.30am-4pm. The bird hides and The Wind in the Willows trail are closed.
PLEASE READ THE TRUST'S LATEST STATEMENT ON COVID-19 HERE.
Know before you go
Parking informationParking on site including disabled parking.
Various routes around the reserve, no watersports or cycles permitted on the reserve.
The disabled toilet is separate from the ladies and men’s, no radar key needed.
Access to the reserve is through the Nature Discovery Centre. Some walking trails are wheelchair friendly, please call into the centre and ask for details.
When to visit
Opening timesThe site will be closed on Saturdays & Sundays. The nature reserve and car park will be open for the local community for daily exercise on Mondays-Fridays, from 9.30am-4pm.
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
A warm welcome will always greet you at Hanningfield reservoir Nature Discovery Centre. The 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.
There are some really good nature trails on the reserve for all to enjoy. 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 Nature Discovery Centre to guide you around the reserve.
The Visitor Centre has a well-stocked shop, including binoculars and telescopes, wildlife books, bird food and feeders, gifts, greetings cards and toys.