Summer Leys Panorama

Summer Leys Panorama Drone Photo

Summer Leys Nature Reserve

Summer Leys - Nathalie Hueber

From Friday 19th July the gate will be closed and locked every evening at 19:30 from March – October, 16.30 from November – February, and re-opened at 05:00 every morning.

Find out why and read about our consultation here

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

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


On a lead


Bird hides
Picnic area

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

From Friday 19th July the gate to the car park will be closed and locked every evening at 19:30 and re-opened in the morning at 05:00 for a trial period. See details below.

Best time to visit


About the reserve


Summer Leys Gate Locking Proposal

Following feedback from our consultation supporting our proposal, we have decided to make the difficult decision to shut the Summer Leys main car park gate overnight for a 4 month trial period.

From Friday 19th July the gate will be closed and locked every evening at 19:30 from March – October, and at 16.30 from November – February, and re-opened at 05:00 every morning.

We are aware that this isn’t the perfect solution and we are frustrated that the anti-sociable behaviour on site has led to this. We have addressed some of the concerns around the time of the closure and the risk of knock-on effects in our Consultation Response (link below). The impacts of the gate closure will be closely monitored by Trust staff, volunteers and the local police and we continue to welcome feedback.

Read the full response to our consultation


About the nature 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. 

Join us

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.  

Download the reserve leaflet.

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