|1 & 2 – Nature Reserve
Car Park to Whillet’s Bridge
The car park in Legsheath Lane (TQ 384341) has a hide and a viewing area. This is one of the best spots from which to view wildlife. To the left on the far side is Martins Island and behind that is the Heronry. Winter ducks can be seen feeding and resting as this area is out of the ‘swell’.
The scrub in front of the viewing platform is worth watching for species such as Reed Bunting and Whitethroat, and the bird feeders attract many tits and finches in the winter. Kingfishers may be seen feeding from the bushes on the North Bank opposite and, when water levels are low, watch out for waders feeding on the exposed mud.
Pintail Bank and Pintail Point are to the right of the viewing area. Ospreys sometimes fish here. Common Terns nest on the rafts and there is also a raft used by loafing Cormorants.
The scrub and willow trees along the road from the car park eastwards towards the T-junction are worth perusing for woodland species and, in spring, migrant warblers such as Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. The fields on the other side of the road may also host winter thrushes.
Beyond the T-junction is Whillet’s Pool and a small area of wet meadow and reeds viewable from the roadside. This is a useful area for warblers and buntings and, in winter, thrushes and finches such as Redpolls and Siskins. North of the T-junction, Whillet’s Bridge across the River Medway is another place to watch Kingfishers and also Grey Wagtails.
3, 3a, 3b, 3c – North bank &
From Whillet’s Bridge, just up the hill towards East Grinstead, is a turning to the right which leads to a small car park about 100 yards from the gates at the bottom. Towards the reservoir is a footpath on the left which provides an excellent walk at any time of year, but at its best in autumn when migrants such as Black Tern, Osprey and various waders pass through. 3a & 3b are good spots from which to look over the reservoir: there are also seats and a picnic area.The Millennium Walk (3c) starts from the Water Works. Access is via a small lane off the Forest Row to Sharpthorne road. Leave Forest Row with the church on your left and look for a small turning on the right (just after the school entrance on the left). It should have a sign by it. Go all the way down the small lane, over all the speed bumps, keeping right until you get to the Water Works. Park just outside the main gates and walk through, following the signs. The Millennium Walk is good for woodland species and is excellent in springtime when the woods are full of bluebells. There is a picnic area which is good for viewing across the reservoir to the calmer waters of the south bank.
|3d & 4 – Water Works & Dam
Follow the access directions in the previous column. Viewing is limited but there is an area of scrub and also a small bridge from which to view the outflow from the reservoir. This attracts Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, finch flocks, Bullfinch and, occasionally, Stonechat, Skylark, Green and common Sandpipers, and Kestrel. It is also possible to walk a short distance downstream to look over one of the disused sediment pools. Here can be seen Kingfisher and Little Grebe and, in summer, a lot of dragonflies and damselflies. Also listen out for migrating warblers as the pool attracts huge swarms of insects. This is NOT publicly accessible land, so please do not stray too far.To view the dam end, follow the previous access directions but turn left from the lane before reaching the Water Works and follow the short uphill track to the Sailing Club car park. This is not strictly publicly accessible, but you are permitted to view the reservoir from the corner by the Sailing Centre (4). Please DO NOT walk along the dam or go further than the Bailiff’s office. If the water levels are low, please also refrain from walking on the shore; this is private land and you also risk disturbing the wildlife. Thank you.Here divers, grebes and diving ducks may be seen in winter and, along the water’s edge look for Grey Wagtail, waders and occasional rarities such as Grey Phalarope and Snow Bunting. In spring and autumn Little Gulls and Arctic, Black and Common Terns have been seen passing through and, more recently, occasional Mediterranean Gulls. Meadow Pipits and finch flocks can also be seen on the grassy dam banks.