Due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, all hides are currently closed

Former gravel pits that have been restored to a diverse wetland nature reserve.


Amwell Lane, Great Amwell
SG12 9SS

OS Map Reference

TL 376 127
A static map of Amwell

Know before you go

40 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

No 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.

Walking trails

Dragonfly Trail 


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.


Under effective control
Dogs (under control) are permitted along pathways around the reserve. Dogs are not permitted in the bird hides (James, White and Gladwin) or around Hollycross dragonfly trail.

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

A Site of Special Scientific Interest designated former gravel pit in the Lee Valley near Ware, Amwell Nature Reserve supports internationally important numbers of wintering wildfowl. Along with outstanding communities of breeding birds, the reserve is home to 21 species of dragonfly and damselfly resident in Hertfordshire, making this the county’s best site for dragonflies.

The reserve includes two waterbodies, Great Hardmead Lake and Hollycross Lake, which were excavated between 1973 and 1990, and a variety of associated wetland, grassland and woodland habitats.

Spring and autumn passage migrants benefit from our reedbed management and the majority of the reserve’s birds can be seen from the main viewpoint. For panoramic views over the reserve head to our largest hide, the White Hide, where close views of the islands and tern rafts can be enjoyed year-round. Amwell is known for bitterns and we cut rides and ‘bittern bays’ in the reedbed to help visitors see the elusive bird from the Bittern Pool viewpoint. 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. During colder winters smew can also be seen. The dragonfly trail is open from May to September and gives you the chance to view dragonflies close up, hunting over open water.

Seasonal highlights
:Great crested grebe, heron, lapwing, oystercatcher, water rail.
Summer: Common tern, emerald damselfly, hairy dragonfly, little ringed plover, willow emerald damselfly.
Autumn: Buzzard, dunlin, redshank.
Winter: Bittern, gadwall, shoveler, siskin, smew, snipe.

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Protection Areas (SPA)


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
310, 311, C4 – St Margaret’s rail station (0.75 miles).
Rail: St Margaret’s (0.75 miles)

Follow us on social media

Support our nature reserves

It costs on average £30 per month to care for each acre of our nature reserves.