Summer Leys Nature Reserve

Summer Leys - Nathalie Hueber

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

Location

Hardwater Road
near Wollaston
Northamptonshire
NN29 7TD
Wellingborough

OS Map Reference

SP 866 633
A static map of Summer Leys

Know before you go

Size
47 hectares

Entry fee

No

Parking information

Car park off minor road to Wollaston

Grazing animals

Yes

Walking trails

Part wheelchair accessible. Some areas muddy in winter and after rain

Access

Partly wheelchair accessible

Dogs

On a lead

Facilities

Picnic area

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

April to August, September to February

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.  

Download the reserve leaflet.

Contact us

Reserves Manager
Contact number: 01604 405285

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Location map