Summer Leys

Summer Leys Panorama

Summer Leys Panorama Drone Photo

Summer Leys Nature Reserve

Summer Leys - Nathalie Hueber

An old gravel pit transformed into an internationally important haven for breeding and wading birds


Hardwater Road
near Wollaston
NN29 7TD

OS Map Reference

SP 886 634
A static map of Summer Leys

Know before you go

47 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Car park off minor road to Wollaston. Car park open 05:00-19:30 Mar-Oct; 05:00-16:30 Nov-Feb.

Grazing animals


Walking trails

The site is wheelchair friendly. Please see the map on the leaflet for the wheelchair route.

Some areas muddy in winter and after rain.


Partly wheelchair accessible.

Strictly no unauthorised swimming or boating allowed.


On a lead


Bird hides
Picnic area

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit


About the reserve

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.   

Reserve leaflet with map

Additional information

  • We have regular work parties at Summer Leys. See the Northamptonshire work party page for more information. 
  • Scroll down to see the reserve boundary. Please note the boundary map is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary. 


Contact us

Reserves Manager
Contact number: 01604 405285

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Location map

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Summer Leys - Nathalie Hueber

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Betony at Upwood Meadows June  - c. Robert Enderby

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