Access to the main parts of Paxton Pits nature reserve
Hayling, Rudd and Cloudy Lakes
The Meadow Trail starts at the Visitors’ Centre, crosses the Meadow, joining the Ouse Valley Way at the southeast corner of Hayling Pit. It heads east, along the south side of Cloudy Pit and then follows a track north, enabling a circular walk back to the Centre.
Alternatively, you can follow the Ouse Valley Way to the north end of the arable conservation area and then join the Heron Trail. A leaflet and map is available from the Visitor Centre.
The Heron Trail is the most popular for birdwatchers, as it provides good views of one of the best lakes for breeding and wintering water birds.
It starts at the Visitors’ Centre, runs northeast to visit both the Hayden and Kingfisher Hides and, after a short section of the Ouse Valley Way, it returns south to the Visitors’ Centre along the Haul Road. A leaflet and map is available from the Visitors’ Centre.
Access to other parts adjacent to the reserve
The A1 Lakes are so-named because of their position adjacent to the Great North Road, but there is no vehicular access from the road. The permissive footpath around Sailing Lake or the public footpath at the north end of the Haul Road can be used to access them.
The A1 Lakes are part of the recreational zone at Paxton Pits. A1 South is used for water skiing, and A1 North for windsurfing and water skiing. From April to October, birdwatchers should get there early at weekends, as many of the birds move elsewhere during the day.
This is the most northerly pit that is currently accessible to visitors (and doesn’t appear on this map). The Ouse Valley Way runs along the east side of Washout Pit and skirts the southeast corner of Island Pit, before veering right and dropping down to the riverside. A viewpoint is maintained to enable views of the southern half of the pit, though a telescope will be needed to get good views of the waterbirds that use this deep pit during the winter.
Mooring and Washout Pit
At the northeast end of the Heron Trail is grassland and scrub adjacent to the Moorings. At the southern end, a Viewpoint has been acquired by the Friends of Paxton Pits so that visitors can get close to the backbone of the Valley. Just to the north is the Ferry Backwater, aquatic habitat restored in summer 2006.
North, beyond a wooden kissing gate, is the Washout Pit, where the silt from the washed gravel is left to settle. Viewpoints are maintained at the south end and along the east side (accessed along the Ouse Valley Way) to enable the wildlife to be watched.