The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 2 miles (3.22km)
Time to walk: This walk can take as long or as short as you like. Although only 2 miles, because we’re wildlife watchers it took us a good couple of hours. There’s plenty of hides too where you can just sit, chill & watch
Difficulty: Mainly on hard paths & completely flat. Parts of the route used to be very muddy in winter, but new, harder surfaces have now been put in
Parking: Between £4 – £6 depending on the length of your stay
Public toilets: In the car park but not always open
Map of the route:
Summer Leys is one of 126 reserves looked after by the excellent Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire The Trust works with local communities & business supporters to protect local wildlife across the three Counties. Click on the following link to access their website at www.wildlifebcn.org
This was our first ever visit to Summer Leys Nature Reserve, which is 3 miles from Wellingborough &, as it was mid December, we weren’t too sure what to expect
It’s hard to imagine that in the late 1980s this place was just 2 bean fields. Since then gravel has been extracted &, rather than restoring the area to agricultural use, careful landscaping has created one of the most important wetlands in the Northamptonshire Nene Valley
As well as an ever changing bird population, the Reserve is also home to rare fish & newts
Well…what a little treasure this place is! It’s somewhere you can come back to time & time again & see something different. Today we did the 2 mile circuit walk. There’s plenty of excellent hides to watch the wildlife.
Today we saw…Swans, Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, a Little Egret, Herons, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Wigeons, Shovelers, Red Crested Pochards, Field Fares, rare Tree Sparrows (the Reserve is home to the largest colony in the UK), & numerous others
We’d bet that in the summer months it’s packed with families at weekends & why not!
So….ready to explore?
1. Here’s a link as to get here & then just park in the ample parking area & decide what route you’d like to walk. This walk starts by turning right & following the 2 mile circular walk
2. The path’s very clear &, at this time of year through the leafless bushes, you’ll get your first view of the wetlands
3. As the path bears left you’ll come across your first gate, so pass through & enter a new meadow
Turn to follow the path…
5. This walk’s so easy…just keep following the path! It’s along here that you’re likely to come across the largest colony of Tree Sparrows in the UK. And what playful chaps they are! Even with a long lens it’s hard to get a close up photo…
6. Carry on around the path…
…& on your left’s the next hide
7. A little bit further is The Charles Towler Memorial Hide…
8. Now it’s time to continue & exit this section of the walk through the gate & into grassland…
9. The path now exits the Reserve for a short while…
….so follow the disused railway track
On the right you might come across a real varied collection of cattle…
10. Pass the sluice on the left…
…& looking across to the left in the distance is an amazing Little Egret…
11. It’s now time to re-enter the Reserve at the gate on the left…
…& the lakes are ahead again
12. You’re back on the circular path again now so it’s easy to follow. After crossing a bridge you’ll come to Marigold Pond
Marigold Pond is a preserved Great Crested Newt breeding area
13. Now return to the path & to arrive back at the car park.
So…that’s the end of our first visit to a Nature Reserve we never knew existed & what another little jewel this county throws up.
We’ll definitely be back at several times during the next year to watch the ever changing seasons.
Go & try…you won’t be disappointed…