First milestone reached in appeal to revamp Blashford Lakes

© Mark Wright  @markwright12002

Thanks to generous donations, we're delighted to be embarking on an ambitious project to revamp the much-loved Blashford Lakes nature reserve.

The wildlife haven near Ringwood is one of our oldest and most beautiful nature reserves. It’s home to a range of wildlife including kingfishers, otters and the UK’s oldest great white egret, nicknamed ‘Walter’.

The new funds will help replace the oldest bird hide at the reserve, introduce another pond, provide a welcome hut and add a new wildlife discovery trail, among other improvements.

We hope to expand the work in a second phase, including updating the information and facilities at the education centre and finding new ways to bring people closer to wildlife.

Walter the great white egret at Blashford Lakes

Walter the great white egret at Blashford Lakes © Bob Chapman

Walter the great white egret

Known as ‘Walter’, the fourteen-year-old bird has been a familiar sight to the thousands of visitors that visit the popular New Forest nature reserve every year.

Read more

A Hampshire & Isle of Wight spokesperson said: "We are so pleased that this wonderful wildlife haven will have the face-lift it deserves. Our gratitude goes to all who have helped make this possible, and we can't wait to start work on improving the reserve. We're excited at the prospect of welcoming new visitors as well as familiar faces to experience Blashford’s newest facilities in the spring."

Mark Gray, General Manager at Veolia Environmental Services added "We're glad we can support this fantastic project with a grant through the Landfill Communities Fund. Improved access across the site will enable even more people to enjoy the wildlife and benefits the reserve has to offer."

Blashford Lakes nature reserve aerial © Keith Betton

Blashford Lakes nature reserve aerial © Keith Betton

About the improvements at Blashford Lakes 

Funding from Veolia Environmental Trust, the Pig Shed Trust and other generous supporter donations will now allow us to:

  • Replace our oldest bird hide – this will be a much bigger, more flexible space, overlooking the main lake and with a green roof that is perfect for pollinators. The new hide will provide panoramic views so you can get the best look at the lake’s wonderful wildlife.
  • Introduce another pond and build a sensory garden – these additions will provide vital new habitat for wildlife and more accessible pond dipping areas for visiting groups.
  • Provide a welcome hut and more seating – this will be manned by volunteers who will greet visitors and answer questions about the surrounding wildlife. We will also introduce more seating and picnic tables.
  • Add a new wildlife discovery trail and improved signage – we will create a new discovery trail with beautiful willow sculptures and chainsaw carvings for visitors to enjoy. New and improved signs will guide visitors and provide more information about the reserve’s wildlife.
  • Build a new elevated viewpoint – this will be beside the main car park to give panoramic views across Ibsley Water, ideal for viewing starling murmurations.