Blashford Lakes nature reserve has a variety of habitats including ancient woodland, a New Forest stream and alder and willow carr woodland which surround a complex of flooded former gravel working. The reserve, managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, is open 9-4.30 daily with parking, toilets, 6 bird hides and good wheel-chair and push-chair access. There is an Education Centre that caters for school, youth, scouting and adult special interest or community groups throughout the year and a comprehensive programme of guided walks and family events.
The nature reserve is located on the edge of the New Forest in the Avon Valley, just north of Ringwood. Please note that we are not signed from the main road, but directions can be downloaded here: 171107 Blashford directions JD
For more information see the website: www.hiwwt.org.uk/reserves/blashford-lakes
COVID-19 Update: 16/08/2021
The Centre remains closed to all but booked groups and we are providing portable toilets outside the Centre for other visitors at this time..
Everything else is now open as usual, from 9am to 4.30pm daily. For the safety and comfort of everyone working at or visiting the nature reserve while using the hides please wear a mask/face covering, maintain a 1m+ social distancing from others not of your group and ensure that the hides are ventilated by opening the windows and/or doors. Please also remember to close these when you leave the hide!
The Blashford Lakes Project
The Blashford Lakes Project is a partnership between Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Bournemouth Water, and Wessex Water.
The Blashford Lakes Project Annual Report can be viewed here:
The Annual Report for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust can be downloaded here: www.hiwwt.org.uk/annual-report.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is one of 46 Wildlife Trusts working across the UK. With the invaluable support of volunteers and members we manage over 50 nature reserves. We also work with other organisations and landowners to protect and connect wildlife sites across the county and inspire local communities and young people to care for wildlife where they live.
Our vision for a wilder future is beautiful and vital:
We want great places to live that are good for people and good for wildlife.
We want nature to be normal, for children to grow up with wild green spaces to explore.
We want a deafening din, a cacophony of chirping, churring and buzzing.
Find out more: https://www.hiwwt.org.uk/our-strategy
Hi, is there a camera/scope meeting or club where i can view, purchase and discuss equipment. I’ve purchased a spotting scope and now I’m looking for additional eyepieces. Thanks.
Not sure about clubs necessarily (you could try “HOS”; Hampshire Ornithological Society), but “In Focus Optics” have sales/demo days at Blashford Lakes every month, normally the first Tuesday of the month, but it does vary a bit so worth checking the In Focus website and looking up their “events” to check when they are at Blashford if you are making a special trip. Keith is knowledgeable will allow you to try out a variety of options/talk through the options, and although he obviously hopes that you will buy from him, there is no hard sell. Meet him at Tern Hide between 10am-4pm on a sales day. Good luck!
Hi, lovely blog. I visited the nature reserve with my partner and snapped a few photos of what seemed to be fungi. I subsequently identified the L. sulphureus thanks to your blog, although at the time I didn’t know what I was looking at (I have two photos). I also found a couple of the species but cannot identify them. Is there a way I can email you the photos to look at?
I confess I am no expert on fungi, but you could try sending them through to the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s “Wildline” which you will fin don the website and they can circulate them to people who might know and get back to you. There is also the online resource at I-Spot, which is very good. Anyway good luck and thanks for the comment, it is always good to know we are read!
Please add a map & directions!
More information about the reserve, is available on the website, with links from the blog, but I have now added in more implicit links in the blogs “About” page – hope that helps!
I was hoping to attempt some photographs of the incredible starling displays that you experience. Have I missed the large numbers this year or is it still worth making the journey? Any words of advice would be sincerely appreciated.
Hello Victoria, The starling murmuration has now lost some of its previous splendour with reduced numbers and more distant views, but on clear days it can still be quite impressive however it is not guaranteed. I hope that helps in your decision making!
I am trying to figure out how to leave comments, so just testing!
You have succeeded! Now you have found out how to leave a comment we will look forward to seeing them.
I’d like to ask a question regarding North Hide and why there are only 2 opening windows? There are sometimes so many photographers in this hide all jostling for position that it makes it near on impossible if you are the last person into the hide to be able to take a picture yourself. Some of these photographers will set up shop for quite some considerable time with flasks of tea/coffee and lunch even and you can forget about photographing anything yourself. South Hide doesn’t appear to have a problem so I’m not sure why North Hide should be any different, please could someone explain?
You are not alone in your frustration, this isn’t the first time that we have had to answer this question either on the blog, in an e-mail, or in person at the centre and nor will it be the last!
Essentially there are two reasons why both Ivy North Hide and Woodland Hide have closed windows with one way glass:
– they are aimed primarily at allowing visitors to see birds. Bittern are notoriously secretive birds and given that the hide was located close to the reed bed to the north of Ivy Lake where bittern were known to over-winter, with the hope that our visitors would be able to enjoy watching these amazing birds, we wanted them to be able to do so without disturbing them. Generally speaking we are fairly satisfied that it has worked. The same is true of the Woodland Hide where visitors can enjoy close up views of (at times!) hundreds of birds without even needing to use binoculars. The success of both hides is borne out by the number of bird watchers, families and photographers who visit them and unfortunately (sadly) this does occasionally lead to friction between visitors. As frustrating as it may be we very much believe that the wildlife spectacles that can be enjoyed from both hides would not be nearly so spectacular and desirable to photographers (or everyone else) with a conventional hide.
– education is a key part of our work at Blashford Lakes and Woodland Hide and Ivy North Hide are the two hides nearest to the centre that are used most often by visiting groups. The combination of closed windows and one way glass means that a class of 30 children can enjoy watching wildlife with little or no disturbance to it.
The other hides on site are a) used less frequently by large groups of children and b) generally look out over more distant wildlife which is therefore less affected by disturbance from people, camera’s and telescopes.
So that’s your answer! I don’t doubt that you will still be frustrated, but hope that you will at least appreciate the rational behind our choice of hides now!
Any volunteering opportunities at the Lakes?
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this – missed your post I’m afraid.
Possibly too late to be of any use to you now, but it may not be and may be of value to other readers of this blog so posting a somewhat belated reply regardless.
Yes there are opportunities for volunteering, but they are limited at present so it very much depends on your experience and in what capacity you are interested in helping out.
We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to support our education delivery (schools, community and uniformed groups, public events, family and holiday activities etc.).
Our weekly Thursday and first Sunday of the month conservation volunteer workparties are both full, but if suitably qualified and experienced we would welcome offers of help from volunteers within specific areas of reserve work, e.g. chainsaw/brushcutter use, wildlife survey etc.
For more information please e-mail email@example.com
Thank you, Jim
Is the no dogs (even on leads at all times) a hard and fast rule ?
Yes this is the case, with the exception of working guide dogs of course.
We do though permit dogs on leads on the permissive footpath that runs between Ivy Lake and Rockford Lake along the eastern boundary of the reserve, which links the Avon Valley long distance footpath with a public footpath that follows the Dockens Water river between the nature reserve and Moyles Court. There is no access with your dog from the nature reserve car parks to this path however so visitors by car should use the National Trust / Forest car parks near by.
Hello, would I be allowed to fly a drone over the nature reserve to capture some aerial photographs?
Firstly, thank you for asking and not just assuming that it is permissible to fly drones over the nature reserve! You are not the first to have made an enquiry and with the growing popularity of drones you will not be the last either!
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust generally does not permit the flying of drones over any of its nature reserves and, nor do the two landowners at Blashford Lakes, Wessex and Bournemouth Water, permit drones to be flown over their land holdings either.
Sadly some individuals do just turn up and fly them and are asked to desist once we have tracked them down.
Thanks for your reply, I always like to ask before I fly in a public place.