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Pitsford Water Nature Reserve

A gem of a reserve; a haven for wildfowl and migrating waders

Pitsford Reservoir was built to supply Northampton with water in 1955. Today the Trust leases the northern section of the reservoir, managing the area for wildlife in partnership with the owners, Anglian Water. This designated area can be enjoyed by obtaining a permit.

Four main streams enter the reserve and their valleys form large bays of shallow water. During winter these provide excellent feeding and sheltering areas for wildfowl. As the water level drops in summer, stretches of mud offer feeding areas for migrating waders. These areas are quickly colonised by unusual plants not found elsewhere on the reserve, such as orange foxtail, mudwort and golden dock. On the waterside fringes, celery-leaved buttercup and beds of water mint add to the interest. The wealth of plants provide food and shelter for a range of mammals including harvest mouse, badger and brown hare.

The most conspicuous wildlife here is the birdlife. The whole reservoir was designated a SSSI in 1970, principally because of the large numbers of wildfowl. In winter up to 10,000 birds can be seen, including wigeon, gadwall, pintail and teal. Over 25 species of duck have been recorded as well as three species of diver and five of grebe. The scrub areas attract winter flocks of thrushes to their berry crop and over 60 species of bird are known to breed here in spring and summer, varying in size from heron to the tiny goldcrest. A feeding station ensures a good chance of seeing tree sparrow and many other small birds attracted to the seeds. The diversity of habitats provides food and shelter in spring for a huge range of migrant songbirds. 


The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary.

Nearby nature reserves

4 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Bradlaugh Fields
4 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Kingsthorpe Meadow
5 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Nature reserve map

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.

Reserve information

5 miles north of
Map reference
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
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Opening Times
Open at all times
181.00 hectares
Permit required

Trust member can contact the Northamptonshire Office on 01604 405285 or via a few days before they wish to visit to obtain a free annual permit. Non-members can purchase a day ticket from Anglian Water at the Pitsford Water Fishing Lodge (01604 781350) for £5 (£2.50 concessions) or £30 for a family season ticket for the whole year.
Walking information
7 miles for complete circuit. Paths generally good. Wheelchair access to one of the hides
Designated disabled parking. Further information will be sent out with visitor permit
Guide dogs only
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Tel: 01604 405285