The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust strives to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It is the leading wildlife charity in the counties of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and is part of a nationwide network of 47 local charities working together to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in the UK. With the support of the Trustís 27, 000 members, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust is involved in action to protect the natural environment.
Go Back: [Top of Page] [Articles
A few of the reserves under the organizationís umbrella are:
From Ringwood take the A338 for two miles towards Fordingbridge/Salisbury, pass Ivy Lane on your right and take the next right turning to Moyles Court/Linwood at Ellingham Cross, into Ellingham Drove. To get to the Study Centre take the first right straight on through the gate. Parking is in front of the centre but please note that the Centre is only open at certain times.
Public footpaths run across the site, leading to the New Forest footpaths and Avon Valley footpath. The Study Centre is open all year, usually five days a week. Times vary, so please phone 01425 472760 in advance to avoid disappointment. A number of open access viewing screens overlooking Mockbeggar Lakes can be visited at any time.
Please note that dogs are not permitted on the reserve due to its use as an educational site.
These flooded gravel pits are used for water storage, as important conservation areas and for recreation by sailing, water-skiing and fishing clubs. The study centre provides an excellent education opportunity with ponds, a stream, grassland, woodland and a hide overlooking Ivy Lake. This reserve is of great importance for over-wintering wildfowl which benefit from zoning of recreational use, scrub clearance and grazing.
Blashford Lakes supports a large number of over-wintering wildfowl with species such as tufted duck, pochard, wigeon, shoveler and internationally important numbers of gadwall. In autumn green sandpiper and blacktailed godwit are among the waders stopping off on their migration. Insects are abundant in the lakes, including dragonflies such as brown hawker and red-eyed damselfly. Specialist plants including spiked watermilfoil and needle spike-rush thrive in the open water and the banks are lined with the aromatic water mint, brooklime, and meadowsweet. Also of interest is an area of lichen-rich grassland. The woodland surrounding the site adds variety, full of flowers and fungi. You may even catch a fleeting glimpse of roe deer, badgers and foxes.
The western car park of Farlington Marshes can be reached from the east Portsmouth A27 roundabout (signed for the A2030). The track leading to Farlington is a small lane between the A27 westbound exit and the A2030 exit leading to Portsmouth. Caution is required on rejoining the roundabout, as the traffic is fast moving. The eastern access to Farlington can be reached by parking at the Broadmarsh Coastal Park and walking west along the coastal path. This car park is near the A27 Bedhampton exit. From the east, exit the A27 onto the A3(M). Take the first exit and follow signs for Broadmarsh Coastal Park. There is a coastal path around Langstone Harbour, which passes through Farlington. A cycleway runs along the northern edge of the reserve on the south side of the A27.
The majority of the circular walk is on the sea wall, about 4km long in total (approximately 2.5 miles). Several areas of the reserve are open access. Please keep dogs on leads at all times. Wellingtons or sturdy boots may be needed if conditions are wet.
Farlington Marshes is the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trustís oldest reserve and a great favourite amongst the many visitors, who keep coming back to enjoy the internationally important wildlife and lovely views. Although Farlington is not far from Portsmouth there is a sense of being out in the wild as you walk out on the sea wall footpath with views inland over the reserve or out over Langstone Harbour.
Farlington, reclaimed from the sea centuries ago, is internationally important for the bird populations that it supports, as well as being a blaze of colour in spring and summer with many flowers and butterflies. To make sure that Farlington stays as a haven for wildlife the open grassland is maintained by grazing cattle and scrub control is managed by the reserves officer. The marsh is grazed by cattle for most of the year, which helps to maintain it at the right length for brent geese to graze.
Many flowering plants have been recorded here including unusual species such as sea barley, bulbous foxtail, slender hareís-ear, yellow-rattle, grass vetchling and corky-fruited waterdropwort. Internationally important populations of migratory birds, particularly large populations of dark-bellied brent goose and black-tailed godwit, can be seen here. Thousands of waders can be seen on the lake at high tide especially in the autumn, and the deeps are particularly good for wildfowl. Looking out over the mudflats of the harbour thousands of feeding waders can be seen in the winter. In summer islands in the harbour have large numbers of breeding gulls and terns.
Farlington Marshes has ongoing bird research projects carried out by the Trust in partnership with other organisations (local and international). This important work not only helps to better understand the behaviour of the birds on the reserve, but also the wider context which will help us to ensure their survival. Farlington Marshes was originally saltmarsh and mudflat, which was enclosed by a sea wall for pasture.
From Junction 6 of the M3 follow the A339 to Newbury until signs for the A340, take this road towards Aldermaston. Continue into Tadley and turn right at roundabout, and at the end of this road turn right at T junction. Continue and turn into Impstone Road on your right. The car park is on the left near the end of this road. Other entrance points to the Forest are:
By Little London - from the A340 (Aldermaston Road) turn right into New Road and left into Little London. There is an entrance by the lay-by on the left opposite Frog Lane.
By the sewage works - continue on the road from Little London and take the next left, down a speed-restricted lane and bridleway. There is an entrance near the pub (Calleva Arms) in Silchester leading across the Common.
The Honeymill entrance is a small track leading from the A340. It is on your right as you head north into Tadley; pass New Road on the right, and the entrance is just after a road leading down to a farm on the left, by the 30 mph speed limit signs. If you reach the Fighting Cocks pub you have gone too far.
Or take a bus to Silchester, Little London or Tadley (Routes 44A and 1) from which you can walk to Pamber forest.
Open access all year round. There are circular trails from the marked entrances. Please keep dogs on leads at all times. The footpaths in Pamber can be wet and muddy in winter, so wellies are advisable. There are regular guided walks and talks. Please contact the reserves officer (0118 970 0155) for more details.
Traditionally used to provide timber for local crafts and industries, this remnant of the royal forest of Windsor is now managed for conservation and visitors. The extensive network of paths throughout the reserve ensures that you can explore the woodland, heathland and stream valleys thoroughly. The open sunlit rides and clearings are busy with butterflies in summer, taking nectar from the flowering plants. The heath and wood pasture on the east of the site make an interesting contrast to the woodland areas, and around the ponds in summer you can see many different dragonflies. This area, along with Silchester common, is grazed by cattle all year round. The woodland has coppice management and there is a programme of thinning to promote a better tree age structure.
Pamber is predominantly oak and birch with hazel coppice. In the wetter areas by the stream, alder carr can be found. Within the wood there are scarce wild service-trees growing, a species associated with ancient woodland. On the woodland floor, particularly in the stream valleys, flowering plants can be found such as wild daffodil, primrose, violet, tutsan, solomonís-seal, star-of-bethlehem and orpine. Pamber is especially good for butterflies which make the most of the wide sunlit rides with many flowering plants. Purple emperors live high up in the tree canopy, descending to get minerals from the surface of the rides. The white admiral has a gliding flight and they, along with silver-washed fritillary and purple hairstreak, may be seen along the rides.
Three species of woodpecker, woodcock, and a variety of warblers are some of the birds of note to be found here. Several different bat species have been found.
Pamber was once part of the royal forest and used for hunting. More recently it has been managed as high forest for the production of timber (you may notice the majority of trees appear to be of an even age) and coppice.
Roydon is one mile south-east of Brockenhurst. There are several entrances and parking areas to this reserve easily accessed from the A337. For north Roydon go south on the A337 from Brockenhurst and take the second left after the level crossing. Go past the church and park in Church Lane. From here a track leads south to the reserve. To the south of Roydon there is parking at two locations on Sandy Down (continue south on the A337 and take the first left after the Filly Inn). Please park with consideration to other road users. The Filly Inn kindly allows visitors to the reserve to park in the pub car park. Buses go from Brockenhurst to Setley, route 56 and 56A, on the A337 past the Filly Inn.
Open access. There are several bridle paths through this reserve, which are all surfaced. The smaller paths are unsurfaced and can be muddy in wet weather.
As you walk along the network of paths through Roydon woods you will see many different habitats, each with their own character and wildlife. Deer can be seen or heard in the woodland, which is alive with bird song all year round and bright with butterflies in the summer. In autumn with the changing leaves fungi suddenly appear on the woodland floor. The grasslands and heaths are grazed by cattle and new forest ponies, and the woodlands are coppiced and thinned to improve the tree age structure. Invasive bracken is cleared from heathland areas.
Amongst the multitude of butterflies found at Roydon scarce species such as white admiral and pearl-bordered fritillary can be seen. Roydon woods benefits from the clean air of the New Forest with over 150 different lichens being found here, including some rarities. Tawny owls live in the woodland areas whilst nightjars make the most of the more open heath areas. All three of the British woodpecker species can be seen here. The ancient woodland contains large old oaks and beech trees.
In the wet areas insect-eating sundews can be seen. There are hundreds of flowering plants at Roydon with rarities such as narrowleaved lungwort and pale butterwort. If you are lucky you may see roe, fallow or sika deer on the reserve. In autumn listen out for their rutting (mating) calls which sound like whistles or belching. The ponds support many different dragonflies and damselflies, including the broad-bodied chaser and the beautiful demoiselle.
St Catherineís Hill
From the centre of Winchester take the B3335 south and turn left onto Garnier Road. The car park on Garnier Road gives the easiest and shortest access to the summit, passing through the original entrance to the hill fort. A public footpath enters the reserve in the south east. The Dongas entrance can be reached easily from the M3.
From the north, leave the M3 at Junction 9 and follow the signs for Alton (A31). At the next roundabout keep straight on towards Southampton (A33). At the next roundabout turn left towards Winchester (B3330), and then take the road towards Morestead, on the left just before the M3 underpass. After 250m, turn right into a small road where parking is available. The entrance to the reserve is at the end of this side road. Please park with consideration to other road users.
From the south, leave the M3 at Junction 10 and turn right at the first roundabout, following signs for Alton (A31). At the next roundabout you need to turn back on yourself, following signs for Morestead. Just before going back under the M3, turn left into the road for Morestead, and then after 250m turn right into a small road where parking is available.
Open access all year round. Paths are unsurfaced and uneven in places. There are steps up the hill on the northern and southern sides. There is a public footpath that runs through the south of the site, connecting to Twyford and St Cross Road footpaths. It is possible to walk from the Winchester water meadows to St Catherineís Hill via the Itchen Way and over the river Itchen back to Winchester along the Clarendon Way. The reserves officer can be contacted on 07831 692963.
St Catherineís Hill has attracted people for thousands of years as a landmark hill with good defences. It is still popular with visitors today who come to enjoy the abundant wildlife, ancient monuments and spectacular views over Winchester and the Itchen valley. The turf of this chalk grassland is rich in wild flowers, which support a host of scarce butterfly species. There are few other places where you can have such an enjoyable walk, particularly on a warm summerís day surrounded by flowers and butterflies. To prevent the encroachment of scrub on the chalk grassland it is cleared over winter and grazing prevents it growing back.
The short turf on the southern slope is particularly good for chalk grassland flowers, which support many butterflies. Brown argus and chalkhill blue are the most notable species. Small flowers such as autumn ladyís tresses, musk orchid and frog orchid are found amongst the taller dropwort and purple knapweeds which are important nectar sources for the butterflies.
The Dongas, a scheduled ancient monument, are ancient track ways worn away in medieval times by animals and carts passing over them so that now they look like dry river valleys.
St Catherineís Hill is also a scheduled ancient monument and has signs of occupation over thousands of years, with bronze age pits, iron age ramparts, Saxon boundaries and the site of the Norman chapel that gives the hill its name.
Winchester College has owned St Catherineís hill for about 130 years. The M3 construction caused massive changes to the landscape. To compensate for the loss of chalk grassland, restoration works have been carried out since the mid-1990s. These include landscaping and seeding of the old bypass, arethusaís clump, and an area next to the Dongas.
Easily reached from the M27 - from the west exit at Junction 8 and take the A27 towards Fareham. Continue over the River Hamble and turn left at the traffic lights (next to a chandler) into Swanwick Lane. Go over the motorway bridge and turn left into Sopwith Way. The reserve is reached by turning right at the mini roundabout just before the security barrier for NATS. Parking is at the bottom of this access road.
Open from dawn till dusk with open access to the majority of the site. The study centre is used by schools and other organised groups and is generally closed when not in use. With the help of volunteers we endeavour to open it for visitors on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (2-5pm), from Easter to end of September. Toilets are available when the centre is open. There are three colour coded circular routes around the site which are of varying lengths. There is an ongoing programme to improve the access at Swanwick - so far this has included developing an easy access path, providing perches, making the study centre accessible and preparing a reserve booklet for people with visual impairment. For further information or for the programme of events please phone the education officer (01489 570240).
Swanwick is an almost entirely man-made landscape, now owned and funded by National Air Traffic Services (NATS). It is managed for wildlife, visitors and education by the Wildlife Trust, with a full-time Education Officer on site. The deep flooded clay pits support a wide variety of plants and animals. Woodland has grown up on the spoil heaps and wildflowers abound in the meadows, which are grazed.
In the old grassland, which was untouched by the excavation, grass vetchling and lesser centaury can be found. Zigzag clover and slender birdís-foot trefoil grow on the steep slopes created by excavation and spoil.
On old spoil heaps woodland vegetation has had a long time to develop, with species such as lemon-scented fern and wild service-tree.
North meadow supports populations of orchids and butterflies and the scattered scrub attracts many birds including nightingales. Large numbers of common spotted orchid grow next to the study centre.
Swanwick is almost entirely a man-made landscape resulting from clay extraction over the past century for the adjacent Bursledon brickworks. The clay was transported by conveyor belt, the only remaining sign of which is the route and brick walkway in east valley.
New hill is an artificial hill created in 1991 with soil excavated from the NATS site and sown with meadow grasses and wildflowers in 1992. There are cowslips in spring, and in summer it is covered in oxeye daisies with many insects and birds.
Centre lake, in front of the car park, was created in 1991-1992 on the site of a deep flooded clay pit. It has become colonised by a wide range of plants, insects, amphibians and birds. In spring moorhen, coot, and mallard are found.
Exit M27 at Junction 2, take A326 Fawley/ Totton road, take the first exit to Totton (A36) and proceed towards Totton. After about three quarters of a mile you will come to a roundabout, take the first road on the left (Brunel Road), after about one quarter of a mile you will see Testwood Lakes entrance on your left.
A series of paths provide circular walks around Little Testwood and Testwood lakes. There is a path linking the centre with a bird watching hide overlooking Meadow lake and scrapes created in 2002. This route offers a pleasant walk through grassland by ponds and wetlands. The Testwood lakes centre is a purpose built centre for school and community groups, conservation volunteers and visitors. The centre is open most weekends between 12 and 3, and at various times during the week. For further information or details on the programme of events, contact the education officer (023 8066 7929).
Testwood lakes have been formed from land where gravel has been extracted and then left to flood naturallyóthey are developing into an excellent site for wildlife. Some of the grasslands surrounding them are existing pastures that have been enhanced by strewing hay from our flower rich hay meadow at Hoe Road near Bishops Waltham, whilst others have been newly created by seeding with a wild flower mix. Cattle graze the meadows in spring and summer.
The Lakes are attracting increasing numbers of wildfowl during the winter, including mallard, teal, shoveler, tufted duck, pochard, gadwall and wigeon. Oystercatchers have already bred and it is hoped that lapwing and redshank will too. The ground flora of alder gully is very rich including lesser spearwort, bluebell, yellow pimpernel, moschatel, red campion and foxglove.
Winnall Moors nature reserve is situated within half a mile of Winchester City centre. From North Walls Road (one way) take the first left into Hyde Abbey Road and follow round to the right into Gordon Road. A leisure centre is on the right where car parking is available.
The other entrance can be reached on foot via Durngate Place, which is at the end of North Walls Road near the police station. There is a separate walkway over the bridge from which the reserve can be reached. Winchester has a train station and bus station from which the reserve is within easy walking distance.
The southern part of Winnall moors is open access all year round; the north of the reserve requires a permit for access, or attend one of the guided walks (for details contact the reserves officer on 07831 692963). No dogs are allowed on the reserve.
It is easy to forget in this tranquil spot that the bustling city centre is a short walk away. Winnall Moors has the renowned and beautiful river Itchen flowing throughout its length, providing much needed water for the wet grasslands, reedbeds and ponds. In the southern end of the reserve the circular walk leads you along the riverbank and other waterways, with great views of the bird and plant life that abounds here. A closer look at water life can be had from the pond platform. The wet grasslands in the north of the reserve are important for their wetland plants and breeding bird interest. Two fields are cut for hay and the rest are grazed.
In the northern part of the reserve plants such as southern marsh orchid, marsh valerian, bogbean, ragged-robin and marsh-marigold can be found.
The rare green-flowered helleborine is found under willow trees in the southern part of the site.
The river Itchen has distinctive plant life such as water crowfoot and lesser water-parsnip. On its banks purple loosestrife, orange balsam, gypsywort and various sedges provide cover which is used in spring by nesting birds such as tufted duck and mallard and in winter by gadwall and wigeon.
Reedbeds and open mixed fen in the southern end of the reserve are dominated by tall grasses interspersed with fleabane, meadowsweet, fen bedstraw and skullcap. Here, amongst the reeds in spring, reed and sedge warblers breed in large numbers.
Unusually for a chalk stream the Itchen has many different species of breeding dragonfly including the broad-bodied chaser and common darter. The meadows are important breeding and feeding grounds for redshank, lapwing and snipe particularly during spring and early summer.
In the southern part of the reserve there is a trial reed cutting plot to investigate the affects of this management on the number of species found there. The Wildlife Trust is monitoring the northern part of the site and the access and management carried out here is under review to determine what is best for the sensitive wildlife. The location of the old water meadows (formed in 1670) and their water channels can still be seen in the northern part of the reserve. The monks of Hyde abbey are thought to be the first to farm the land, but this labour intensive practice was stopped in the 1930s.
Information and photos courtesy Hampshire Wildlife Trust and
Blashford Lakes by Gillie Hayball
Farlington Marshes by Albert Roberts
Pamber Forest by Peter Emery
Roydon Woods by Albert Roberts
St Catherineís Hill by Albert Roberts
Swanwick by Emma Reed
Testwood Lakes by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust
Winnall Moors by Albert Roberts