Testwood Lakes is a 150 acre site owned by Southern Water and managed by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. The reserve is an assortment of grassland, wet woodland, hedgerow and lake environments.
Click here for more on wildlife and landscape features. See the plan your visit page for information on how to get here and for accessibility information. Fishing is permitted on Little Testwood Lake only. Day permits are available from Test Valley Angling Club at Goldsmiths Newsagents, 41 Rumbridge Street, Totton SO40 9DR 02380 862021.
Testwood Lakes Centre and bird hides
The Testwood Lakes Centre is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4 pm, Sundays and most Saturdays, 1pm to 4pm (BST) in summer and 12 to 3pm (GMT) in winter. During term time there are often school groups using the centre so please be aware it may not always be possible to come and look around. Inside the centre are activity sheets and leaflets, interactive wildlife displays and accessible toilets. There are two bird hides, approximately half a mile from the centre, open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm. The gates to the reserve are open from 8am to 6pm in summer (BST) and 8am to 4pm in winter (GMT). If you are planning to visit the centre and/or bird hides, please feel free to use the car park right outside the centre. To find out more about education visits have a look at our education page.
With the onset of autumn Testwood's wildlife turns its thoughts to preparing for winter. Butterfly numbers are now much diminished but a late spell of warm weather encourages small copper, peacock, speckled wood, brimstone and comma butterflies to remain on the wing. As the season cools further some of these species will look for over-wintering roosts to see out the worst of the winter's weather. 20+ peacock butterflies have done just that, taking up winter residence in our Bronze-Age roundhouse.
The end of summer at Testwood is marked annually by gatherings of swallows and house martins over the Education Centre and meadows. Their spiralling and chattering antics as they gather on the ridge stones of the building are their final swansong before heading south to winter in Africa. Their calls are replaced by the honking of Canada geese returning to over-winter in the UK. Skein's of geese can often be seen flying over the site heading south to the feeding grounds of the Lower Test Marshes and Southampton Water. Soon other wildfowl will join these geese in returning to the site. Pochard, tufted duck and wigeon will soon return to the wader scrapes which are eerily quiet after the frenzy of the summers breeding season.
In the same way the site's animal species are preparing for winter, so are the site's flowers and trees. The leaves are turning brown, orange and yellow in colour as the sugars built up over the summer start to decay. The leaves which have already fallen to the ground make a satisfying crunching sound underfoot while unpicked blackberries exude a sweet aroma as they over-ripen in the hedgerows. Acorns on oak trees provide jays and squirrels with a bonanza of food. The odd flower head of knapweed remains where it managed to avoid this year's hay cut while a final flourish of birds foot trefoil brings a splash of colour to our otherwise green fields.
As the season progresses and temperatures drop, grass growth rates decline. Our cattle which have done an excellent job in grazing off this year's growth will soon be on the move to over-winter in the relative warmth of our farmer's cattle sheds only to return next Spring to start work all over again.
Dogs at Testwood Lakes
If you visit Testwood with your dog, please read our leaflet beforehand. Always pick up after your dog as the site is used for educational visits. Look out for signs around the site about grazing animals and sensitive wildlife. Find out more about dogs on our nature reserves here.
Join our session of stories, games and crafts for accompanied pre-school children at Testwood Lakes
Join Adrian Bicker, creator of Living Record, for an evening on this new online recording system.
An informative day-long workshop run by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust staff. You will be introduced to the main concepts of wildlife gardening and demonstrate the features and plants you can add to your own garden to transform it into a haven for local birds, butterflies, hedgehogs, frogs and a range of other wonderful wildlife
Cost includes copy of Wildlife Gardening.
Join the Testwood Lakes Education Officer for a walk to look for signs of spring, play games, bug hunt and look for tracks along the way
Drop into the Testwood Lakes Centre during the Easter holidays and pick up your Deadly Detective booklet