Swindon SN5 7ET
OS map 169 Grid ref: SU124859

  • Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs
  • Dogs are not allowed
  • Paths are cut through vegetation and can be uneven
  • Viewing platform. Access to site via prior appointment only - phone (01793) 616558
  • 23 hectares

Swindon Lagoons reserve map © WWT

Swindon Lagoons is an incredible story of nature’s ability to recover. Until 1985 the lagoons stored waste by-products of Thames Water’s sewage treatment works. Thames Water cleared them out, they were planted with reeds, and wildlife has flooded back under our management.

The reserve lies behind a security fence and visits are limited to guided tours and open days. Book one and enjoy your walk around the 15 lagoons, reed beds, grassland, marshland and stretch of River Ray.

The site can be seen from the viewing platform on the cycle path. In summer follow paths cut through rough grass to see dragonflies like the common darter and emperor. Grass snakes and slow worms will sunbathe on a warm day. Watch sand martins, swallows and reed buntings hunt for insects over the water. In winter see if you can spot shoveler duck, little egret and tufted duck on the water while snipe and sandpipers probe the mud for insects. Look out for tennis ball-sized knots of woven grasses at the tops of long grass – the nests of harvest mice.

Great crested newts, frogs and toads are found in most lagoons. You might even see an otter or water vole in the river. Visit in the evenings and you could spot roe deer, foxes, badgers and bats - the tiny pipistrelle, Daubenton’s and serotin. Volunteers ensure that open water doesn’t turn into woodland through a buildup of vegetation and that all habitats are maintained in balance.


Shoveler © Tina Townend Common frog © Steve Day Little Egret © Tina Townend Harvest mouse © Amy Lewis

Directions

If driving – Turn off M4 at Junction 16 towards Swindon and follow Great Western Way. At Barnfield roundabout (near B&Q) turn left and left again onto Barnfield Road. Park on Barnfield Road and follow footpath over River Ray footbridge to junction. At junction turn right on to National Cycle Route 45 (the old railway track) and follow for 0.5 mile. Entrance gates are on right. Alternatively, park in the Shaw Forest car park and follow path through woodland to viewpoint and then drop down onto National Cycle Route 45. Entrance is in front of you.

If using bus - Visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/parkingtransportandstreets

If cycling – National Cycle Route 45 passes the reserve. Visit www.sustrans.org.uk

Other reserves nearbyHagbourne Copse, Rushey Platt

 Swindon Lagoons location map © WWT

(Photo: Lagoon summer panarama © Ryan Tabor)