Lower Test Nature Reserve

Lower Test by Mark Heighes

Lower Test by Mark Heighes

A green oasis in a busy suburban environment


Stirling Crescent
SO40 3BR

OS Map Reference

SU 365 145
A static map of Lower Test Nature Reserve

Know before you go

160 hectares

Entry fee

Donations welcome

Parking information

Limited on road parking on Testwood Lane near the Salmon Leap Pub (SO40 3BR). Two access points to reserve via lane to left of pub. Parking and viewpoint available at the ‘Old Redbridges' in an unsurfaced lay-by, off the A36 from Totton to Southampton.

Grazing animals

Cattle on site from March to December

Walking trails

Test Way public footpath crosses the reserve with sections of boardwalk. A permissive path leads to bird viewing screens and hide toward the south of the reserve. Please keep to the path to avoid disturbance to wildlife and be sure to check the tide times as the reserve is not accessible at high tide.


Please contact the Trust for disabled access information


On a lead


Bird hides

When to visit

Opening times

The nature reserve is open at all times; bird hides are generally open from 9am to 4pm

Best time to visit

Visit in spring to see green-winged orchids and water avens, as well as reed, sedge and Cetti’s warblers. During the winter wigeon, teal and snipe are abundant, while autumn brings sand martins, swallows and ospreys.

About the reserve

This patchwork of floodplain meadows, marshes and reedbeds is just a stone’s throw away from the busy Southampton Waters and docks, but it seems in another world entirely. 

The salt and fresh water and the natural progression from land to sea mean that a huge variety of wildlife thrives at this reserve. During the spring and summer Lower Test is alive with birdsong – the songs of reed, sedge and Cetti’s warblers fill the air, whilst colourful dragonflies such as black-tailed skimmers and broad bodied chasers dart about overhead. 

Autumn brings flocks of sand martins and swallows, and sometimes exciting rare birds such as ospreys and marsh harriers. During the winter months, strategically placed bird hides provide exceptional viewing points, from which you may see great flocks of wigeons, teals and mallards. 

A walk through this nature reserve is sure to inspire even the most hardened city dweller. 

Explore our nature reserves in the Lower Test Valley with our 5 mile self-guided trail:

Download the trail guide


Read the Trust's statement on the current high levels of fuel oil pollution on this nature reserve, and the inadequate response by the authorities. 

Contact us

Clare Bishop

Environmental designation

Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)

Location map