Whether you want to go wakeboarding, walking or wildlife spotting you can pick and choose at Blashford Lakes, as Carole Varley discovers
There’s a lot going on to get the birdwatchers twitching at Blashford Lakes this month. While many of the famous wildfowl guests may have taken flight for their summer quarters, there is a vast range of birds to be spotted on and around the water at the wildlife reserve.Made by flooding former gravel pits, the builders’ loss was most certainly the naturalists’ gain; redshank, lapwing, oystercatcher, black-headed gulls, coot, great-crested grebe, little ringed plover and common terns now paddle around the lakes in the 490-acre site, which is managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust in partnership with Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water, New Forest District Council and Wessex Water.From six bird hides, reached by surfaced paths and board walks - for which mobility buggies are available (the reserve has been awarded a New Forest Access for All Award) - the reserve’s year-round denizens can be spied upon. These include kingfishers, woodpeckers, nuthatches and a range of common woodland birds, including summer visitors such as garden warblers and blackcaps. The hide’s feeders give good close-up views through the one-way glass windows, while one looks on to a sand martin bank with more than 300 nesting holes.
Wildlife galoreNaturally, the site’s ancient alder and willow carr woodland and stream also provide cover for some perhaps less flighty but no less shy characters, such as roe and fallow deer, foxes and otters, as well as grass snakes, frogs and toads and some 25 species of dragon and damselflies and endless moths and butterflies on which they can feast, if they’re quick enough. The reserve is open from 9am to 4.30pm daily with parking and toilets. There’s also an Education Centre for school groups throughout the year. For further information visit www.hwt.org.uk or telephone 01425 472760.
Waterskiing & wakeboardingEllingham Ski and Wakeboard Club, with British waterski instructors, offers a variety of watersports, including waterskiing and wakeboarding for both beginners and the more experienced, members and visitors. The club is affiliated to British Water Ski and the British Disabled Water Ski Association, with waterskiing facilities for disabled people. It is open from March until the end of October.For more information tel. 01425 471470.
SailingPerhaps one of the New Forest’s best-kept secrets, the Spinnaker Club offers both racing and family dinghy sailing all year round. For more information, tel. 01425 483692 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
FishingCoarse fishing is available for members of the Christchurch Angling Club during the season at Blashford (Spinnaker) Lake. For more details, tel. 01202 480009.
WalkingA number of public footpaths allow walking around the site. The Avon Valley long distance footpath skirts the eastern edge of Blashford Lakes.