Lower Test Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Entry feeDonations welcome
Parking informationLimited 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 animalsCattle on site from March to December
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
When to visit
Opening timesThe nature reserve is open at all times; bird hides are generally open from 9am to 4pm
Best time to visitVisit 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: