Opening Times

Spring and summer opening times: 12th February - 28th October 2018



Last admission: 4pm (1 hour before closing)


Mon-Sun: 10.00am-4.00pm

Please be aware that our car park will be having essential maintenance carried out between Tuesday 13th and Friday 16th March. Please take extra care when visiting College Lake between these dates. There will be traffic control measures in place to minimise disruption while these essential repairs take place.

From 29th October 2018 to 12th February 2019, winter opening times will be in operation (Reserve: Mon-Sun 9.30am-4.00pm, last admission 3pm, and Café: Mon-Fri 10.00am-4.00pm, and Sat & Sun: 10.00am-3.30pm)

College Lake Nature Reserve

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

College Lake by Liz HarveyCollege Lake by Liz Harvey

Over 1,000 species have been recorded on this thriving nature reserve.

A visionary nature reserve

Once a chalk quarry, College Lake is now one of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust's flagship nature reserves. The transformation is a fantastic example of what people passionate about wildlife can bring about through a shared vision and sheer determination. Thanks to the hard work of BBOWT staff and volunteers, this thriving nature reserve has attracted more than 1,000 different wildlife species. An eco visitor centre with stunning views of the lakes opened to the public in 2010.

Best in the county

College Lake is widely regarded as one of the best places in Buckinghamshire for water birds, and with many hides overlooking the lake, this is a great destination for bird watchers or for families, whatever the weather or time of year.

Wetland birds

The marshland is perhaps the most important of the reserve's homes for wildlife, as in the summer it supports a number of breeding waders. These include lapwing and redshank, both of which are rare species, and College Lake is a key breeding site in Buckinghamshire. In the lake, common terns nest on specially created islands. In the winter, the inhabitants of the water change, and wintering wildfowl, such as wigeon and teal, from Scandinavia and beyond, use the wetlands for feeding and roosting.

Grassland and more

Elsewhere on the reserve, chalk grassland is alive with colour during the spring and summer as a wide variety of flowers come into bloom. These support a range of insects, including a number of rarer butterfly species such as the small blue. Rough grassland provides a home for breeding skylarks, as well as shelter for small mammals, which in turn feed birds of prey such as kestrels and barn owls.

Woodland, scrub and hedgerows are widespread across the reserve, and support a wide variety of wildlife, including finches and tits and in winter. thrushes such as fieldfare and redwings.

Cornfield flowers

An unusual feature of College Lake is the Cornfield Flowers project that started in the 1980s. College Lake was one of the first places in the country to actively conserve these rare and beautiful flowers, and the reserve now produces a glorious show of colour every year during June and July.


Reserve champions - supporting their favourite reserve

Geoff Young: In memory of Fred Young.

Things to do & places to go

  • Try the Time Trail, great for first-time visitors. Just follow the ammonite waymarkers.
  • Try our circular Wildlife Walk to explore the whole reserve (2 miles). Follow the lapwing waymarkers.
  • Explore the world of bees at the Bee Centre.
  • Find out about the old farming methods that we still practice here in the Farming and Wildlife Exhibition.
  • Look out for our seasonal guided walks and Family Fun days.
  • There are 11 bird hides around the reserve.
  • Download and print at home our new Tring Reservoirs Wild Walk. This 13 km circular walk takes in College Lake, a section of the Grand Union Canal and three nearby reservoirs. 

Your College Lake photographs

Share your College Lake photographs with us! Add them to our Flickr group, and tag them with 'collegelake'.

Nearby nature reserves

Aston Clinton Ragpits
4 miles - Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust
5 miles - Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust
Aldbury Nowers
1 miles - Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust
Tring Reservoirs
2 miles - Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust



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    A-Z of Wildlife

    Photo of Lapwing

    Name: Lapwing

    Scientific name: Vanellus vanellus

    Category: Wading birds

    View full A-Z

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    Snakeshead Fritillaries Survey by BBOWT

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    Hand feeding coal tit by Bob Coyle

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