Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve

Swanwick Lake, by John Windust

Swanwick Lake, by John Windust

Study Centre car park is now open and closes at dusk each day. This is the only parking area for the reserve. If full, please do not park on surrounding roads. The Study Centre remains closed so there is no access to toilets or hand washing facilities.

All usual restrictions apply - no swimming, no dogs in lakes, no fires/BBQs, no fishing without permit, bicycles & horses only permitted on Public Bridleway.


Sopwith Way
SO31 7AY

OS Map Reference

SU 507 099
A static map of Swanwick Lakes Nature Reserve

Know before you go

35 hectares

Entry fee

Donations welcome

Parking information

Parking available, but the car park closes at dusk

Bicycle parking

Cycling only permitted on bridleway

Grazing animals

British white cattle grazing from July to October

Walking trails

There are three surfaced paths and others that can get very muddy in the winter.


The reserve is located just off Swanwick Lane in Swanwick, about 2 miles from Bursledon and 7 miles from Fareham.

Car: Exit the M27 at junction 8 or 9. From junction 8, follow signs to the A3024, Southampton and Hamble and then the A27 to Park Gate. At the traffic lights by ‘The Navigator' pub turn left onto Swanwick Lane. Continue over the motorway then turn left onto Sopwith Way. Turn right at the mini roundabout by the security gates. From junction 9, follow the signs for A27 Southampton until you reach Park Gate. Take the road signposted Botley. At the Elm Tree pub turn left onto Swanwick Lane. After about a mile, turn right onto Sopwith Way. Turn right at the mini roundabout by the security gates. The barrier to the car park is open only in daylight hours and is operated by NATS.

Public transport: The reserve is about 30 minutes walk from Swanwick station. From the station: Turn right at the end of the access road then continue to the Elm Tree Pub where you turn left onto Swanwick Lane then continue as above. The First bus company run a number of services stopping at either end of Swanwick Lane

Contact the Trust for disabled access information. 


Under effective control
Dogs are sometimes required to be on a lead if schools groups are visiting the site.


Accessible toilet
Baby changing facilities

When to visit

Opening times

Open access to majority of the nature reserve. The Education Centre is open for schools and organised groups but closed when not in use. Please note: the toilets are closed when the Education Centre is closed

Best time to visit

Summer: butterflies and dragonflies can be seen all over the site. The meadows are in full flower. Spring: breeding birds and a great dawn chorus. Bluebells carpet parts of the woodland. Winter: frosty mornings. Autumn: leaf colours, fungi spotting

About the reserve

Swanwick Lakes, once a clay pit for a local brick works, is now a beautiful oasis for nature in an otherwise urban area. A mixture of woodland, lakes and meadows attracts a large array of species.

The majority of the site is woodland, and during the spring it comes alive with bird song and woodpecker drumming as a multiplicity of birds settle down to nest. Rare species such as marsh tits also thrive at this reserve.

Come summer the meadows are in full bloom; they hum and buzz with thousands of insects. North East Meadow is adorned with orchids and knapweed, as well as marbled white, meadow brown and gatekeeper butterflies. In the woodlands elusive white admiral, purple emperor and silver-washed fritillary butterflies flit between the trees. 

The lakes and ponds around the site are prime locations for dragonflies and damselflies, including unusual species such as the downy emerald. 

The site has an excellent educational facility where children can come and learn about the natural environment, and a number of public events happen throughout the year. Find out more information about Swanwick Lakes Education Centre

Download the trail guide

Contact us

Dawn Preston (Education Officer) or Chris Lycett (Reserve Officer)

Location map

Map key

Map Key

Forthcoming events at Swanwick Lakes

News from Swanwick Lakes

Our partner at Swanwick Lakes

NATS logo