Habitat: Upland reservoir with adjacent farmland, pine heath, and oak and birch woodland
Bessom Bridge: SS975319 Main car park: SS967305, TA22 9NU
The lake and its surroundings can be good at any time of year, but is best in winter. Wildfowl such as Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, and Great Crested Grebes are all regular, but passage/wintering waders are dependent on water levels. Good views over the shallower parts of the lake can be had from Bessom Bridge and the car park off the minor road to the east (SS975319); the small marsh there is also worth checking. The diving duck flocks occasionally attract rarities such as a Ring-necked or Ferruginous Duck and often frequent the northernmost Hurscombe arm: view from the track along the north side, accessed from the west end of the bridge. The woodland here attracts Siskins, Bramblings, and winter thrushes.
Along the west side, the main car park gives easy access to the middle part of the lake. The gull roost is usually opposite the sailing club, and has attracted Glaucous and Iceland Gulls in winter, wildfowl have included Long-tailed Duck, and in some years a wintering Common Sandpiper may be found. In the SW corner of the lake is the dam (parking is difficult here, and not encouraged – walk down from the main car park): from November to February, visit here from about an hour before sunset for a spectacular arrival of Goosanders coming in to roost.
From Ralegh’s Cross take the B3190 west, then turn right (brown signed) to the northern end of the lake. Minor car park is down a left turn just before Bessom Bridge and main car park down a left turn c.500 yds west of the bridge. Parking no longer allowed at sailing club.
The Upton arm at the south end can be reached along a public footpath from Upton, though parking is difficult (SS991288), or from Haddon Hill (see separate site guide).
Mostly public access, though some of the better paths involve steep gradients, so not very wheelchair friendly. You can do a full circuit if you’re feeling energetic, though it is 9 miles long, and stout/ waterproof footwear is recommended. Café (restricted opening hours) and toilets at main car park.
About the Site