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Hanningfield Reservoir

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Address: Hanningfield Reservoir Visitors Centre Hawkswood Road | Downham, Billericay CM11 1WT, England
Phone Number:
+44 1621 862960
09:00 - 17:00
Closed now
See all hours
Sun - Sat 09:00 - 17:00
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours

Set in mature woodland and offering superb views over the 870 acre...

Set in mature woodland and offering superb views over the 870 acre Hanningfield Reservoir; Hanningfield nature reserve itself offers beautiful walks through the woodland; visiting bird hides, ponds and appreciating views across the reservoir. The site is run in partnership with Essex & Suffolk Water where you can venture through to their Cafe on the Water or take up a day’s fishing at the Fishing Lodge. The reservoir itself is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the important numbers of wildfowl that use the reservoir in the autumn and winter.

New from March 2015 came the Wind in the Willows sculpture and brass rubbing trail with five sculptures from the much loved story of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad. Maps are available at the visitor centre for 50p as well as exclusive books and gifts in partnership with the River & Rowing Boat Museum, Henley-on-Thames.

If you fancy venturing further than Mr Toad down by the pond there are great nature trails on the reserve for all to enjoy. Advice is always on hand in the visitor centre, to help identify wildlife and to share the latest hotspots to experience wildlife. A trail guide is available from the visitor centre at 40p, to guide you around the reserve and wildlife activity bags can be hired for a small donation for the children to take out on the reserve.

The reserve has full disabled access including Lyster Bird hide, just a short distance away. The centre boasts a wide array of gifts, range of Hawke & Opticron binoculars and telescopes; as well as books and refreshments including sandwiches, cake, tea and coffee. Take a seat at our seating area whilst you are enjoying your hot drinks and enjoy the stunning views over the reservoir.

Visitor Centre Facilities

Include gift shop offering light refreshments, toys, books, optics binoculars and scopes, bird feeders & feed, wildlife gardening products, greeting cards and much more. Toilets, disabled access toilet, baby changing facilities, wheel chair accessibility. Booking is essential for all centre events, so make sure you call or visit the centre in advance to avoid disappointment. No dogs except registered assistance dogs. No bicycles allowed.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 209 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 78
  • 93
    Very good
  • 20
  • 6
  • 12
wildlife and nature

Very friendly and helpful staff,if you like nature its a great place for a leisurely walk around the resevoir and woods. The fishing lodge serves nice food and the staff are... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
via mobile
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209 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 209: English reviews
Chelmsford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
52 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago NEW

Its bluebell time and if you go down to these woods today you will find carpets of blue. If you haven't been before then ask the staff how best to approach the main areas in flower. The sight lifts the spirit. Its a great area for a stroll, watch the many birds and relax. Make a donation better yet join... More 

Thank OrdinHarryman
Level Contributor
22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

Very friendly and helpful staff,if you like nature its a great place for a leisurely walk around the resevoir and woods. The fishing lodge serves nice food and the staff are great. Will visit again and can recommend.

Thank K S
Billericay, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Great afternoon, walked the trails and got to see lots of wildlife. The facilities are nice and clean and the staff friendly.

Thank Steven N
Management response:

Dear Steven N, Thanks for your review; great to hear you got out and about and enjoyed our facilities. I'll pass on your comments to our staff and volunteers. All the best, Andy, Centre Manager More 

Level Contributor
14 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

Started at the Visitor centre for a cup of tea, Gluten free cake (couldnt taste the difference) and hot chocolate. Cake was amazing, great views overlooking the resevoir, squirrells, ducks and Rabbits were there to look at up close while we ate and drank. The staff were incredibly kind helpful and took pride in the cafe and shop. The shop... More 

Thank Iain F
Management response:

Dear Iain F, Thankyou for your lovely review. It sounds like you explored a lot and managed to see plenty of wildlife. Glad you liked the centre too; we try to have lots of variety in what we have on sale, including the wooden bowls you mentioned, which were made by one of our volunteers using wood from the reserve... More 

Thetford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
309 reviews
39 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Had good afternoon .Had lunch in restaurant. Very nice . Clean and tidy. Staff where very nice. Good facilities all round .Fishing was good too.. Both catching our 4 fish limit . Staff with fishing very jolly and helpful. Fish good to eat to. Wish we lived closer .But wife says we will be back.

Thank s g
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Great walk round a great family friendly place. We did the whole reserve including 4 woods. Just over an hours gentle walk. What was really nice was that dogs are not allowed meaning you can let your young kids have a run without having to worry about them being pestered by a dog or stepping in anything. The kids loved... More 

Thank DCX452
Management response:

Dear DCX452, Thankyou for your lovely review of Hanningfield Reservoir; I'm really pleased you had such a good time and also did the Wind in the Willows sculpture trail. I'll pass on your kind words to our staff and volunteers. Hope to see you again soon. Andy Marriott, Centre Manager More 

Level Contributor
20 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 March 2017

Lovely place to visit, as long as the sun is shining (for those doing serious photography) You can park at the main cafe, near the fishing lodge, or walk there from the visitor centre. Be aware that the cafe can get very busy and noisy at lunch time, when kids are off school. For those serious about bird watching, best... More 

Thank Alby P
Management response:

Dear Alby P, Thanks for your thoughtful review; you're right that the birdwatching is often best early in the morning, while the birds are more active and there are less visitors. Glad you have also noticed one of the benefits of not allowing dogs onto the reserve! All the best, Andy, Centre Manager More 

Chelmsford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
246 reviews
88 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 March 2017

We visited on a Sunday morning, and had a very pleasant stroll round. There's free parking outside the visitor centre, which has a small shop, a small selection of food and hot and cold drinks, as well as information about the reservoir and wildlife. Exiting the visitor centre (which you have to go through) there are a couple of route... More 

Review collected in partnership with ASUS 12 W8 IE Bookmark

Management response:

Dear JONATHAN B, Thankyou for your review of Hanningfield Reservoir. I'm pleased you got around the visitor centre and reserve easily and enjoyed your visit. Hope to see you again soon. Kind regards, Andy, Centre Manager More 

Rayleigh, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
84 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 March 2017

We often walk over here, it's nice to get away from it all and it's relatively away from roads and noise. Just nice to meander around the woods, walkways and footpaths seeing what you can see; then popping in the centre for a coffee and some snaps of the wildlife on the feeders. Nothing exciting about it, but that's what... More 

Thank Mark B
London, England
Level Contributor
47 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 March 2017 via mobile

Rocked up with a four legged friend only to find out that a place so hot on nature, is rather snobbish about the types of animals they allow onto their muddy paths. We weren't the only sad faces there either. Saw two other families being turned away from the great outdoors. It's outside. Why? Thankfully other outside places are more... More 

Thank jaceLondon
Management response:

Dear jaceLondon, I'm sorry you were disappointed about not being able to take your dog for a walk. We do love animals very much here but take our conservation role seriously and ask that all visitors observe the no-dogs policy. The reservoir is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for birdlife and it is important to keep dogs away from... More 

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