Despite the closure of Hardwater Road, the Summer Leys nature reserve can still be accessed from the Wollaston end of Hardwater Road, coming from Wellingborough via the A509, or Grendon via Main Road. There is a “road closed” sign some cones positioned to allow vehicular access, which visitors to the reserve are allowed to use.
Know before you go
Parking informationCar park off minor road to Wollaston
Part wheelchair accessible. Some areas muddy in winter and after rain
Partly wheelchair accessible
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitAnytime
About the reserve
Please be aware that there is currently a proposal for Natural England to install a new fence around Moon Lake, which is situated north of the nature reserve. Moon Lake is not part of the reserve and is currently managed by Natural England. Click here to read more about this project.
This large, ex-gravel pit is made up of a main lake with gently sloping banks, shallow areas of water and ponds, low lying islands, a large scrape and a fringe of reeds surrounded by grassland and wet woodland. This is ideal habitat for wintering birds: goosander, wigeon and gadwall reach nationally important numbers, joined by large numbers of roosting lapwing and golden plover.
Wading birds use the scrape and the shallow lake margins. Oystercatcher, ringed plover, little ringed plover and redshank stay to breed, while whimbrel, turnstone and common sandpiper often pass through during migration. Numerous pairs of common tern nest in a colony on the islands, so we cut back vegetation each autumn to keep them safe, and every few years we re-profile the wader scrape.
Otters are rare but regular visitors to the reserve, while the taller reeds and rushes around the lake may reveal the ball-shaped woven nests of harvest mice. Sixteen species of dragonflies and damselflies have been recorded here and it is one of the best places to see the uncommon hairy dragonfly, which dances around the edges of Marigold Pond in May and June. Late spring sees hobbies hunting insects over the reserve.
Kim’s Corner, a fragment of species-rich neutral grassland, is a good place to watch butterflies. In late summer, it comes alive with the songs of grasshoppers and crickets. We haycut in summer, followed by sheep grazing. To maintain the open natures of the lake banks, we coppice willow. We also cut back other vegetation and remove encroaching scrub. We have regular work parties at Summer Leys.