Know before you go
Parking informationNo official parking but it is possible to park on Amwell Lane and access the reserve along the track, over the railway line to main viewpoint. There is also parking in a layby on Hollycross Road.
The reserve has solid, steady paths when dry and accessed from Hollycross Road or along the towpath from Stanstead Abbotts (south) or Ware (north). The track from Amwell Lane is very uneven.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
Amwell Nature Reserve near Ware is one of the most important places for wildlife in the county and is well-used and enjoyed by the local community. It hosts a mosaic of habitats including reedbeds, grassland and woodland, although Great Hardmead Lake is arguably the most striking feature. The reserve forms part of the Lee Valley, which connects the site with other nature reserves and habitats along the River Lee, providing a wildlife corridor stretching from Hertford to the Thames, creating a Living Landscape.
Sit back, relax and pay a virtual visit to Amwell in the video below.
In summer, it is best known for its dragons – the reserve is home to 21 species of dragonfly and damselfly and has its very own Dragonfly Trail – but it really shines in the winter months when a large number of wintering birds call it home.
Visit the viewpoint overlooking Great Hardmead Lake and see what you can spot. The viewpoint is seldomly short of birdwatchers, most of whom will be happy to share their observations. Wintering gulls provide quite a spectacle as they come to roost on the lake in large numbers every evening, screeching, crying and cawing. These are mostly black-headed and lesser black-backed gulls with the occasional, more unusual, Caspian and yellow-legged gulls being spotted by visitors. Many come to Amwell to see not only gadwall and shovelers but also the smew, a rare winter visitor.
Follow the path northbound to the Bittern Pool Viewpoint. With some patience and a bit of luck, you’ll find one of our most elusive winter birds skulking in their favourite wet reedbed home: the bittern. It is a thickset bird from the heron family, with a black and brown plumage providing perfectly camouflage between the reeds. A winter bird, the bittern will often sneak across the ride in front of the James Hide. This two-storey hide overlooks a pool and has several perches and a bird feeding station which is great for seeing garden birds, reed buntings and the occasional marsh tit up close. To view Rough Holme Island stop by the Gladwin Hide and spot ducks such as widgeon, gadwall, shoveler and goldeneye. The Dragonfly Trail is usually open from May to September and gives you the chance to view dragonflies close up, hunting over open water.
Here are a few impressions from people who have visited Amwell Nature Reserve:
If you have visited Amwell with your camera, we'd love to see your images!
Site entrance: The reserve can be accessed from Amwell Lane via a footpath (signposted) or from the River Lee Navigation towpath. The reserve can also be accessed from Hollycross Road.
Access by road: From St Margarets, just before the railway, turn left onto Amwell Lane. In 0.5 miles, look out for the entrance sign on the gate.
Access by public transport
Bus: 310, C4 – St Margaret’s rail station (0.75 miles).
Rail: St Margaret’s (0.75 miles)