Nature Reserves

The Cotswold Water Park Trust operates several sites as nature reserves, where the landscape is managed for the protection and enhancement of wildlife, and where the public can go to enjoy it. Birds, bats, butterflies and Black Poplars are just some of the flora and fauna that benefit from these protected spaces, and all our reserves are easily accessible through public or permissive rights of way.

© Andy Rouse

To find the location of the  Nature Reserves, download a CWP Leisure Map or call in to the Gateway Centre and pick up a free copy.

Cleveland Lakes (Lakes 68 and 74)

Cleveland Lakes contains the largest area of reedbed, marsh swamp and willow carr in the Cotswold Water Park, making it an excellent place to view wildlife. The high water quality provides rich nutrients for plants, making it a favourite feeding place for a wide variety of birds and dragonflies. The more elusive Water Vole and Otter also inhabit the streams, reedbeds and ditches at the eastern end of the reserve. Look out for:

Winter and spring: Goldeneye, Lapwing, gulls, and resident waterbirds such as Gadwall, Pochard, Wigeon, Teal and Tufted Duck can be viewed from the hide at Lake 74.

Summer and autumn: dragonflies and damselflies, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Chiffchaff, Hobby, Sand Martin and Swift. At the heronry, viewed from the Reed Hide at Lake 68, fledgling Grey Heron and Little Egret can be seen leaving the nest and loafing around the site.

© David Hall

Cokes Pit LNR (Lake 34)

Cokes Pit Local Nature Reserve (designated in 2003) is home to a large number of breeding birds including Reed Bunting, Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gull & Great Crested Grebe. In addition Water Vole, Water Shrew and Nightingale inhabit the site, with vast numbers of dragonflies and a rare aquatic plant, the Lesser Bearded Stonewort.

Springtime sees numerous orchids and other wildflowers blooming in the grass clearings, and several species of bat including Daubenton’s can be seen feeding over the lake at dusk.

© David Hall

Elmlea Meadow

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and co-managed with Natural England, Elmlea Meadow is designated for its nationally scarce Snake’s Head Fritillary and Downy-fruited Sedge. The wetland meadow is also rich with species such as Saw-wort, Early Marsh-orchid and Adder’s-tongue. The small wetland section of willow scrub is also the only known site in Gloucestershire for Tufted Sedge.


© David Hall

Old Railway Line

The disused Midland and South Western Junction Railway now forms a vital corridor of wildlife habitat between South Cerney and Cricklade. Bats, birds and badgers all utilise its lightly wooded embankments for foraging and shelter. The summer nights see parts of the Old Railway Line illuminated by our declining native Glow Worm, whose larvae feed on the snails that are abundant on the railway ballast. Sensitive vegetative management takes place in order to enhance their chances of survival into the future.

© David Hall

Shorncote Reedbeds (Lakes 84 and 85)

Here at Shorncote, a 20 hectare reedbed has been established as part of the Cotswold Water Park Biodiversity Action Plan, as these habitats are now quite rare in the UK countryside. These reedbeds provide excellent homes and shelter for a huge variety of wildlife, including Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Little Grebe, Snipe, Otter, Water Vole, dragonflies and even the rare Bittern. The islands on Lake 85b have been designed to maximise the area of reed fringe, whilst allowing clear water between them for bird watching from the hide.

© David Hall

Waterhay Reedbeds

The mineral workings that created Cleveland Lakes utilised an area to the south as a silt lagoon. This lagoon has been colonised by reeds and wet woodland, and provides excellent habitat for breeding and wintering birds such as Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Water Rail, Snipe, Teal and Woodcock; as well as “murmurations” of many thousands of Starlings creating their elaborate displays on the way to roost in the reeds. Waterhay is also home to many reptiles and mammals including Harvest Mouse and Slow Worm.

Other nature reserves within the Cotswold Water Park:

Clattinger Farm

Nearest town:    Cricklade

Managed by:      Wiltshire Wildlife Trust


Edward Richardson & Phyllis Amey (Lakes 119 and 122)

Nearest town:   Lechlade

Managed by:     Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust


Lower Moor Farm

Nearest town:   Cricklade

Managed by:    Wiltshire Wildlife Trust


North Meadow NNR

Nearest town:   Cricklade

Managed by:     Natural England

Roundhouse Lake (Lake 116)

Nearest town:   Lechlade

Managed by:     Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust


Sandpool Farm

Nearest town:   Cricklade

Managed by:     Wiltshire Wildlife Trust


Upper Waterhay

Nearest town:  Cricklade

Managed by:    Wiltshire Wildlife Trust


Whelford Pools (Lakes 111 and 111b)

Nearest town:   Fairford

Operator:          Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust