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Waterhay Nature Reserve

Combining unspoiled grazing land, fantastic footpaths and manmade lakes (formed from disused quarries), Upper Waterhay Nature Reserve is maintained by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

It is part of the Cotswold Water Park; a network of hollowed out quarries which have been converted to create natural lakes teaming with wildlife. Waterhay is on the tip of the Water Park which also offers bird-watching, fishing, walks, swimming, sailing, water-skiing, cycle hire, a pebbly beach, camping, caravanning, paintballing... the list goes on!

As well as being a great place to look out for herons, kingfishers and plovers, it is also home to unusual flora - such as the cream coloured Snakeshead Fritillary (usually a purple coloured drooping flower) which can be found in early May.

There are miles of footpaths and walkways cutting through these disused quarry pits; the most famous of which is the Thames Path which runs from the Spring of the Thames near Cirencester (seven miles from The Leigh) to the Thames Barrier in Central London.

But Waterhay isn't just a place for ramblers and twitchers, it's a great place to go for an explore, and is a safe way of getting between Leigh and Ashton Keynes without going near the main roads - perfect for a Sunday stroll!

Getting There

There are two free car parks (no vans or campers) and picnic areas. One between Happy Land (Yes, it's really called Happy Land) and The Leigh, and another on the Spine Road, north of Ashton Keynes.

Note: Please keep to the footpaths, as quarry machinery still operates in the area - there are also known areas of quicksand and ground-nesting birds.

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