Two Tree Island nature reserve
Mixed Flock Two Tree Island Andrew Armstrong

Andrew Armstrong

We are aware that the current situation at Two Tree Island, with regards to the nature watching hides, is far from ideal and we are doing all we can to rectify the situation.  Unfortunately, there was a spate of vandalism in the summer where both hides were targeted resulting in complete demolition and removal of both structures overlooking the lagoon and Benfleet Creek. 

This was challenging at the time but has given us an opportunity to review the design of the structures with a view to provide even better hides for our visitors to watch wildlife.

We are currently going through the planning and fundraising processes to get us to the point where we can replace the hides with more robust, welcoming wildlife watching structures. We are not giving a specific completion date as yet, but when we are closer to installing new hides we will put a notification on the website.

Adjacent to the internationally protected Thames Estuary, Two Tree Island is a winter refuge for a huge variety of winter wildfowl and waders


Belton Way (by Leigh-on-sea train station)
Leigh on Sea

OS Map Reference

A static map of Two Tree Island Nature Reserve

Know before you go

259 hectares

Parking information

Free car park for 30 cars

Walking trails

Approximately 6km of trails which are a mixture of gravel and grass paths. Please keep to the marked tracks to avoid disturbing nesting birds


Accessible at all times


Under effective control
Please make sure you deposit your dog's waste in one of the bins provided. Between March-September please keep your dogs under control to avoid disturbing ground nesting birds


Bird hides
Picnic area

When to visit

Opening times

Accessible at all times

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

The land was reclaimed from the sea in the 18th century when a seawall was built around the saltmarsh and originally used for farming. Now managed as a nature reserve and just a stones through away from Leigh-on-Sea, it is a firm favourite walking destination and a fantastic site for birdwatching.

During winter, look out over the mudflats which provide the perfect habitat for thousands of wildfowl and waders, including noisy flocks of dark-bellied brent geese that feed on the dense beds of eel-grass. Wander round the western section and you will reach the Lagoon Hide, where hundreds of waders such as curlew, dunlin, avocet, redshank and black-tailed godwit flock to in winter. You might also be fortunate enough to see a short-eared owl gracefully hunting throughout the autumn and winter months.

The eastern section is part of Leigh National Nature Reserve, where the saltmarsh is one of the best surviving in the Thames Estuary. Admire the array of saltmarsh plant species such as golden samphire, sea purslane, common sea-lavender and sea aster.

During the summer months the site is brimming with rare insects and butterflies, including the incredibly rare shrill and brown-banded carder bee and wonderful butterflies like marbled white and Essex skipper. Look to the skies and you’ll often see kestrel hovering over the reserve looking for field voles and look to the ground on a warm morning and you might catch a glimpse of a sunbathing adder or slow-worm.

Contact us

Environmental designation

Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)
Two Tree Island

Did you know?

The name of the island originates from two large Elm trees that were a prominent feature until they were brought down by storms in the early 1960s.