Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre
Essex Wildlife Trust has taken the difficult decision to close Hanningfield Reservoir Nature Discovery Centre and nature reserve to prioritise the welfare of our staff, volunteers and members of the public and sadly we have cancelled all of our events until the end of June.
Please read the Trust’s latest statement on COVID-19 here.
Thank you for your support and patience, we look forward to welcoming you back as soon as we can.
Know before you go
Parking informationParking on site
Various routes around the reserve, no watersports or cycles permitted on the reserve.
When to visit
Opening timesClosed until further notice.
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
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.
There are some really good nature trails on the reserve for all to enjoy and the new orienteering course is proving extremely popular. 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 guide you around the reserve.
We serve a selection of sandwiches, wraps, children’s lunch boxes, delicious handmade cakes including gluten free, cream teas, toasted teacakes, hot and cold drinks and ice creams. Open daily, from 9.00am - 4.30pm
The Visitor Centre has a well-stocked shop, including binoculars and telescopes, wildlife books, bird food and feeders, gifts, greetings cards and toys.