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College Lake Nature Reserve near Aylesbury

A former chalk quarry, College Lake now supports over 1000 species including wetland birds, and a variety of butterflies in the summer. With a Visitor Centre, Coffee Shop and plenty of walking it makes for a great day out!

Just a short bus or car ride from Aylesbury to Bulbourne near Tring, there are many great places to be outdoors. The 61 bus from Aylesbury stops conveniently outside the car park to College Lake Nature Reserve – a Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust site at Bulbourne, a stone’s throw from the Grand Union Canal and nearby Tring reservoirs.

A visitor centre greets you on arrival, with displays, information, a wildlife theme gift shop, and a cafe. The car park is free, but a suggested donation is gratefully received by the trust. Also at the Visitor Centre there is often an art exhibition or installation to view, such as the metal sculptures pictured below.

The visitor centre and facilities include hot and cold drinks and snacks, gift shop, and toilets. Mobility vehicles are available by contacting the centre in advance.

A good walking track goes all round the lake, a distance of approximately 2 miles. Wetland birds can be seen on the lake, and from the various hides dotted around the edge. Surrounding chalk grassland habitat supports a number of Orchids and many, many more wildflowers.

Many of the natural world attractions are of course seasonal, such as the amazing dedicated wildflower meadow, awash with butterflies – Marbled Whites, Blue butterflies,  and vibrant flowers of reds, blues, whites, yellows, and purple shades.

Be sure to take your camera!

The reserve also has educational displays onsite teaching about the history and geology of the former quarry, and a farming museum. On my visit there was also a second-hand book exchange in the hut.

College Lake is a very active reserve, with many events for children, work parties for volunteers, and more events as listed on their comprehensive website. 

For bus users the bus stop for the 61 back to Aylesbury is just down the road back towards town, at the entrance of the garden centre.

But you needn’t head back yet! On the short trip to the bus stop you cross over The Grand Union Canal whose towpath will take you to the reservoirs. If you’re up for a long walk you could go all day, and maybe explore part of The Wendover Arm canal too.

More photos of College Lake

Panorama of College Lake Nature Reserve
Panorama of College Lake Nature Reserve
College Lake Wildflower Meadow II
College Lake Wildflower Meadow II

Visiting College Lake

Local Map

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