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Address: Hanningfield Reservoir Visitors Centre Hawkswood Road | Downham, Billericay CM11 1WT, England
Phone Number:
+44 1621 862960
09:00 - 17:00
Closed now
See all hours
Sun - Sat 09:00 - 17:00
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours

Set in mature woodland and offering superb views over the 870 acre...

Set in mature woodland and offering superb views over the 870 acre Hanningfield Reservoir; Hanningfield nature reserve itself offers beautiful walks through the woodland; visiting bird hides, ponds and appreciating views across the reservoir. The site is run in partnership with Essex & Suffolk Water where you can venture through to their Cafe on the Water or take up a day’s fishing at the Fishing Lodge. The reservoir itself is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the important numbers of wildfowl that use the reservoir in the autumn and winter.

New from March 2015 came the Wind in the Willows sculpture and brass rubbing trail with five sculptures from the much loved story of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad. Maps are available at the visitor centre for 50p as well as exclusive books and gifts in partnership with the River & Rowing Boat Museum, Henley-on-Thames.

If you fancy venturing further than Mr Toad down by the pond there are great nature trails on the reserve for all to enjoy. Advice is always on hand in the visitor centre, to help identify wildlife and to share the latest hotspots to experience wildlife. A trail guide is available from the visitor centre at 40p, to guide you around the reserve and wildlife activity bags can be hired for a small donation for the children to take out on the reserve.

The reserve has full disabled access including Lyster Bird hide, just a short distance away. The centre boasts a wide array of gifts, range of Hawke & Opticron binoculars and telescopes; as well as books and refreshments including sandwiches, cake, tea and coffee. Take a seat at our seating area whilst you are enjoying your hot drinks and enjoy the stunning views over the reservoir.

Visitor Centre Facilities

Include gift shop offering light refreshments, toys, books, optics binoculars and scopes, bird feeders & feed, wildlife gardening products, greeting cards and much more. Toilets, disabled access toilet, baby changing facilities, wheel chair accessibility. Booking is essential for all centre events, so make sure you call or visit the centre in advance to avoid disappointment. No dogs except registered assistance dogs. No bicycles allowed.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 196 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 72
  • 87
    Very good
  • 20
  • 6
  • 11
We visit whenever we can

Lovely place for a walk in any season. Staff are really friendly and (I assume) volunteers. It's also a nice spot if you're a bit of a twitcher as my wife and I are.

4 of 5 bubblesReviewed 1 December 2016
Ramsden Heath, United Kingdom
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196 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveller rating
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Showing 196: English reviews
Level Contributor
104 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 days ago NEW via mobile

Cafe understaffed and slow serving too small for capacity. Needs work to be fair it could be so much better hate writing reviews but it's a waste of time visiting currently.

Thank Ian311985
Management response:

Dear Ian311985 Thankyou for your review; I think you probably intended it to be for the Café on the Water, which is a separate location and business at the other end of Hanningfield Reservoir; we are the Visitor Centre end on Hawkswood Road. We also have a café but we only serve cold food; sandwiches, cakes, muffins, as well as... More 

Brentwood, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 week ago

Visited hanningfield reservoir today with three grandchildren. What a lovely place to get some fresh air let the children run and hide, feed the ducks do some brass rubbings when they find the wind in the willow characters. 50per child for a map and crayon for them to follow and do their brass rubbings. Pay a contribution for the car... More 

Thank julie e
Folkestone, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
110 reviews
59 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

Had a great day here, you can walk for as long as you wish. Man-made footpaths available if you have pushchairs. You do not an entrance fee as such, you make a donation. Have a cafe area here, seems ok, although we didn't try it. We walked via the fishing lake, to the Cafe on the Water... Clean, warm, friendly.... More 

Thank tickers24
essex, uk
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 January 2017 via mobile

I live locally and love going for a weekend walk round. We have found quiet a few geocaches on our wanders. The wind in the willows trail is always good fun kids love finding them.

Thank kwalter88
Maldon, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 January 2017

A great place for all the family, activities for the children, a wonderful set of walks plus you can visit the bird hides to spot the birds if you so wish.

Thank John Stephen O
Chelmsford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
574 reviews
211 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 144 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 December 2016

After Christmas we decided to go for a nice walk in the fresh air & went over to Hanningfield Reservoir. The Wild Life Trust run the visitor centre there & they have many interesting exhibits for you to view as well as many other things to keep you occupied throughout your stay there. There are lots of things to keep... More 

Thank Mike P
Management response:

Dear Mike P, Many thanks for your kind and very thorough review of our centre and the walks and activities you can enjoy here. Hope to see you again soon. Hope you have a Happy New Year. Andy Marriott, Centre Manager. More 

Upminster, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
43 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 December 2016

This is an interesting visitor centre with good facilities for children to get to know about nature. Well signposted walking routes leading to fishing lodge where refreshments and food are served.

Thank 9jaybe22
Management response:

Dear 9jaybe22, Thankyou for your review of Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre and our walks through the reserve. We do try to educate and inspire youngsters through our educational activities and facilities and you can find our events listed on our Facebook page or the Wildlife Trust website. Hope to see you again soon. More 

Ramsden Heath, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
192 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 December 2016

Lovely place for a walk in any season. Staff are really friendly and (I assume) volunteers. It's also a nice spot if you're a bit of a twitcher as my wife and I are.

Thank TerryOB
Management response:

Dear TerryOB, Thankyou for your lovely review of the Reservoir. I will let the volunteers know how friendly you found them. It is indeed a great spot for birdwatching - we also have binoculars by the windows that will help you get even closer views from the Visitor Centre. Hope to see you again soon. Andy Marriott, Centre Manager. More 

Benfleet, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
65 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 November 2016

I worked for Essex and Suffolk Water for 39 years but had never visited the EWT visitors centre so this was a first time visit on an Autumn Sunday afternoon. A well designed centre but the refreshments are a bit basic with a DIY hot drink machine and a few pre packed sandwiches and cakes but it was adequate. Staff... More 

Thank Neal192
Management response:

Dear Neal192, Thankyou for taking the time to write your review of our visitor centre and giving us 4 stars. We are always trying to make improvements for our visitors, and these have recently included introducing some special Christmas sandwiches and a wider range of muffins and scones. We have a no-dogs policy as the reservoir is a designated Site... More 

Wickford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
35 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 November 2016

this is a lovely little place to come for lunch or maybe after a nice stroll pop in tea/coffee and a piece of home made cake. The staff are friendly and helpful.

Thank neece52
Management response:

Dear neece52, Thanks for your review of our centre and reserve. I'll pass on your comments to the staff, many of whom are volunteers. Hope to see you again soon. All the best, Andy More 

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