King's Mead Nature Reserve

King's Mead Nature Reserve © Tim Hill

One of the largest water meadows in Hertfordshire; 265 different species of wildflower and 119 bird species have been recorded here.

Location

King's Meads
Ware
Hertfordshire
SG12 9XD

OS Map Reference

TL 349 136
A static map of King's Meads

Know before you go

Size
96 hectares

Parking information

No official parking. Park at Ware station car park on Broadmeads. Alternative parking in Burgage Lane.

Access

Mostly flat grass paths that can get very muddy in wet weather. Steep chalk bank in the south.

Dogs

Under effective control

When to visit

Opening times

Access at all times.

Best time to visit

April to July, November to February

About the reserve

Spanning a distance of 96 hectares between the neighbouring towns of Hertford and Ware, King’s Meads is one of Hertfordshire’s largest and busiest reserves for people and wildlife. Wetland and varied grasslands are crossed by waterways and paths, offering a range of habitats for plants and animals. 

It consists of several Meads (water meadows) with evocative names such as Sweet Mead, Lady’s Mead and Mill Mead among others. This reserve beautifully showcases how we can live alongside wildlife, creating and maintaining perfect conditions. Carefully managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, supported by generous grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Thames Water and the Environment Agency.

The reserve is famous for its dragonflies and damselflies and over 18 species have been recorded. These include relative rarities such as the Norfolk hawker and hairy dragonfly, but high numbers of more familiar species such as red-eyed damselflies, emperor dragonflies and banded demoiselles.

King’s Meads is a haven for many species of birds. Warblers breed here in the summer, and 2020 saw the appearance of a visiting Marsh Warbler. Sedge and Reed Warblers are vocal residents.

The saltwater runoff from the impressively engineered A10 overpass has created a special habitat; the county’s own mini-saltmarsh. Seaspurrey is a characteristic plant of such environments and can be found underneath the viaduct.

This is to say nothing of the silent Barn Owls, secretive Grass Snakes, chirping crickets, aerobatic Daubenton’s bats, Soldier flies and many other marvels of the Meads!
 

Seasonal Highlights
Spring:
 After a wet winter, the spring will see the arrival of amphibians. Great crested newts and smooth newts breed in large numbers. Many different bird species such as meadow pipit, reed bunting and skylark as well as a variety of plants, including salad burnet and water violet.

Summer: Many species of warblers can be heard calling across the Meads. Listen out for the chirping call of the grasshopper warbler. Dragonflies and damselflies really come into their own at this time of year

Autumn: Little Egrets stand out particularly well at this time of the year. Lapwing, ruff, snipe, wheatear, yellow wagtail can be found here too

Winter: Shoveler ducks are often seen at King’s Meads, along with the declining pochard. 

Contact us

Contact number: 01727 858 901
Contact email: reserves@hmwt.org

Directions

Site entrance: Via the River Lea towpath, either at Hartham Common/Hertford Lock, Hertford or an entrance by the A10 flyover. 

Access by road: Broadmeads car park is accessed from Amwell End Road near Ware railway station. Burgage Lane car park is accessed from Ware High Street A1170.

Access by public transport
Bus:
331, 383, 384, 390, 395 – Hertford Regional College (Stop D) (300m).
Rail: Ware (500m).

From Ware station and town centre down Broadmeads Road. The reserve is very easy to visit by rail, and is approximately 500m from the station.

Aerial photo of King's Meads Nature Reserve

King's Meads at Sunset © Steve Kenny | Birds Eye Studios

Managing the Meads

King’s Meads is place of great variety and contrast and the plan drawn up by the Trust reflects and celebrates this. Large areas of the reserves are easily accessible from either the Hertford or Ware end, and are enjoyed year round by visitors. At the same time, there are extensive patches of wilder reserve which provide a hidden home to warblers, water voles and many others and are best viewed from the paths.

Chadwell Bank

Chalk grassland is a very rare habitat in Hertfordshire as well as the whole country. The thin soil covering the underlying chalk is home to a range of specialist plants and communities of invertebrates.

Fencing

It might seem strange, but in order to keep meadows and grasslands healthy, they have to be eaten. Plants in these environments have evolved to be grazed by sheep and cattle. We work with local graziers and in order to make sure the cows are on the right fields at the right time, we are installing new fencing around the site.

Trails

Exciting new trails are being designed which will guide visitors to areas of particular interest. 

Species surveys and volunteer work

Staff and volunteers from Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust are working year round to identify the wildlife that can be found here and to maintain and improve their habitats. If you would like to get  involved please visit our volunteering page.

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Support our nature reserves

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