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Fobney Island Nature Reserve

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Fobney Island Nature Reserve
Author: thameswater, Published: 16 Mar 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Berkshire, Reading
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Fobney Island Nature Reserve
Length: 1 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 1 mile circular walk around Fobney Island Nature Reserve in Reading, Berkshire. Fobney Island is the perfect place to explore and get to grips with nature with its mosaic of wetland, wildflower meadow, hay meadow and reed bed habitats.

The walk is completely flat and follows a hard surfaced path the whole way round. You will need to negotiate a staggered barrier and two kissing gates along the way. Dogs are welcome on this walk (which follows paths in the Eastern Reserve) but please clear up after them (there’s a dog bin by the lock at the start of the walk) and don’t allow them to cross into the Western Reserve (which is the protected area for wildlife). Approximate time 20 to 30 minutes.

The walk starts and finishes from the Fobney Island car park on Island Road. Leave the M4 at Junction 11 and take the A33 north towards Reading. Continue past the Madejski Stadium and then, just after the Hilton on the right, turn left into Island Road (signed for the Household Recycling Centre). As you reach the recycling centre on the left, turn right to continue along Island Road. Pass under the vehicle height restriction barrier (1.9 metres) and you’ll see the open parking area on the left. Approximate post code RG2 0RP.

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Walk Sections

Start to Bird Hide
Start to Bird Hide

Start point: 51.4339 lat, -0.986 long
End point: 51.4351 lat, -0.9927 long

From the car park, continue ahead along Island Road as it crosses the bridge across the River Kennet. Immediately afterwards, turn left through the black staggered barrier to reach the canal towpath (with Fobney Lock to the right). Keep straight ahead (the right-hand of the two paths) following the towpath with the Kennet and Avon Canal running immediately to the right.

The Kennet and Avon Canal runs for a total of 87 miles with 105 locks and was the main trading route between the west and the east before the arrival of the railway. By 1818, 70 barges were working on the canal, carrying mainly stone and coal. Today the canal is popular with tourists for boating, fishing, cycling, walking and is also important for wildlife.

Continue for about half a mile, until you reach a metal kissing gate on the left. Pass through this to enter the Fobney Island Nature Reserve and directly ahead you’ll see a bird hide, a great place from which to enjoy the vast array of wildlife that populates the site.

Bird Hide to End
Bird Hide to End

Start point: 51.4351 lat, -0.9927 long
End point: 51.434 lat, -0.9859 long

In 2011 Thames Water, the Environment Agency, Reading Borough Council and the Thames Rivers Trust worked together to improve Fobney Island and create this nature reserve. The beautiful reserve is a complex of wetland, wildflower scrub, reed beds and hay meadow, making it ideal for all kinds of wildlife. Take time to enjoy the birds without disturbing them from the security of the hide.

As you’d expect there are large populations of ducks, geese and moorhens that frequent the lakes. The wetland ponds are teaming with dragonflies, damselflies and if you’re lucky you may see a hobby (a kestrel like bird with pointed wings) which catches and eats large insects on the wing. Over winter the site hosts many migrating wading birds such as grebe, sandpipers, lapwings and snipe. You may also catch a glimpse of a kingfisher or heron.

When you’ve finished enjoying the views from the hide, continue on the winding gravel path through the Eastern Reserve. There are several information boards along the way to help you learn more about the habitat and the flora and fauna it supports.

Birds aren’t the only wildlife making the most of this rich habitat. Frogs, newts and grass snakes all make use of the ponds and even the elusive otter has been glimpsed. Water voles have been seen swimming across the larger of the surface waters on the wetland, moving from the canal to the river and feeding on the emergent vegetation. Beyond the wetland to the south is the River Kennet. Within this ‘riffle’ areas have been created, small fast flowing sections with gravel bottoms that are ideal for fish such as the chub to spawn.

At the end of the path you’ll reach a small circular surfaced area, with a bench carved from a large section of tree trunk, another good place to sit and enjoy the wildlife. Just beyond the bench, leave the reserve via the kissing gate and you’ll emerge to the point where you joined the towpath earlier. Pass back through the staggered barrier and turn right over the bridge where you’ll come to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author thameswater and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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