A Day Out at Abberton Reservoir: Family-friendly Activities

Abberton Reservoir, in outer Colchester, Essex, is a great place to visit with children all year round. Nature enthusiasts will love the different walk options and the opportunities to bird watch from the several hides dotted around the reserve. It is a wonderful haven for nature with many ongoing projects to try to raise the numbers of different species including barn owls, stag beetles and turtle doves. It is also home to the Brambly Hedge sculpture trail.

Children standing next to a wooden carving of a Brambly Hedge mouse
Will you be able to spot Wilfred and his fellow Brambly Hedge mice?

Visiting Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park

Why Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park is a good place to visit with children

  • There are several walking routes of varying distances to cater to all abilities.
  • Great opportunities for wildlife spotting and bug hunting- don't forget your magnifying glass!
  • You can find all 7 characters on the Brambly Hedge Wooden sculpture trail.
  • In Summer enjoy the Middleditch Wild Play Area
  • There is a visitor centre with cafe for delicious refreshments.

A panoramic view of a reservoir
Enjoy a drink while enjoying a view of the stunning reservoir

What is there to do at Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park?

Brambly Hedge Trail

For little ones there is the Brambly Hedge Trail. A charming trail of seven mice to spot during a short
route that even the littlest of legs should be able to manage. Maps are available to buy for £1 from the Nature Discovery Centre. The trail is wheelchair and buggy friendly and open every day (apart from Christmas day and Boxing day).

Play Area

There is a lovely play area for little ones, but it gets very muddy. So muddy in fact that it has been closed over winter, reopening in April. If visiting in the winter months or after a lot of rain then be prepared that it might be closed.

Bookable Events

If visiting during the school holidays take a look at the bookable events via the Essex Wildlife Trust. There are regular events such as trails and pond dipping.

Bird Watching

Once you have successfully found all of the wooden sculptures, see how many species of wildfowl you can spot- with up to 40,000 geese, swans and ducks visiting each year.

There is a great shop which stocks local produce as well as works from local artists. You can also get advice if you are looking to purchase binoculars or a telescope.

A pathway leading towards a visitor centre building
The Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Centre has a cafe and shop

What age children will enjoy visiting Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park?

Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park will appeal to children of all ages dependent on their interests of course. At the time of writing, the play area is still sadly closed with no mention of reopening.

Two children peer inside a bug hotel constructed from wooden pallets and tubes
There is plenty of opportunities to discover creatures of all kinds

Is it suitable for pushchairs?

Many of the paths are accessible however some can get muddy depending on the time of year.

What you need to know before visiting Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park?

No bikes are allowed on the actual reserve however it does provide a good rest stop on many cycle routes in the area and there is parking for bikes.

Where can I eat at Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park?

There is a cafe in the visitor centre which offers a good selection of hot and cold drinks, snacks, ice
creams and yummy cakes with a few gluten free options. However, meal options are limited with only a
small menu of light lunches including sandwiches and rolls. The cafe has a lovely veranda with
panoramic views of the reservoir. There is also a great picnic area if you would prefer to bring a packed lunch.

A number of picnic benches dotted around a large grassy area
There is plenty of seating for picnics

Is it dog friendly? 

Dogs are not allowed on the reserve or in the Visitors Centre, apart from assistance dogs.

What to take with you when visiting Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park?

It's definitely worth bringing wellies if it has recently been quite rainy as there are some muddy paths.
You might want to bring binoculars and a guide book to common birds if you plan to do some bird spotting.

How to get to Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park and Where To Park

The Visitors Centre and car park is on the North of the reservoir. As the car park is free it is the best place to head to when exploring.

Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park,
Church Road,
CO2 0EU 

There is plenty of free on-site parking.

What to do near Abberton Reservoir Nature Discovery Park? 

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