Imagine a post industrial site, about 15cm of deep mud with no paths and just one rough track for access. There were some very small trees and a bit of grass starting to grow amongst piles of gravel. It’s hard to imagine this was Testwood Lakes just 15 years ago, not long after gravel extraction ceased.
Now the landscape around the lakes is surrounded by lush green trees and meadows and you walk over boardwalks and paths to explore ponds and bird hides.
Over the last 15 years volunteers and staff of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have developed and looked after this wonderful Southern Water owned nature reserve, which now supports over 100 species of birds and around 20 species of dragonflies and butterflies.
Today the Education Centre welcomes around 100 Hampshire school groups a year; around 4000 children. Over 3000 people a year attend our public events such as Wildlife Watch, Forest School, birthday parties and school holiday activities. Many children attend for an evening visit with their Brownie or Cub group to take part in activities such as pond dipping, den building and bat walks.
Part of the secret of the success of Testwood Lakes is that there is so much local support for the place.
Grace Brennan, Education Officer explains: “We have a small team of staff but a huge team of dedicated volunteers who help us with everything from clearing brambles and putting up fences to helping with a pond dipping session, as well as serving teas on a Sunday and even filling in spreadsheets!” “We also have tremendous support from local uniformed groups such as Brownie groups who visit us several times a year, as well as schools that have been coming to us every year for 10 years or more, and families whose children we have seen grow up!”
On Sunday 30th September we will be hosting a free fun day at Testwood Lakes Birthday fun day from 11am-3pm to celebrate their 15th birthday and partnership with Southern Water. Come along for some wildlife-packed fun!