Stepping Out: Kids will love getting close to nature at College Lake

Above, a view of College Lake and, below, our new columnist Jo Neville
Above, a view of College Lake and, below, our new columnist Jo Neville

The summer holidays are nearly here and luckily for us, the Vale has lots to keep children entertained.

Over the next seven weeks, this column will look at inexpensive ideas for families to enjoy.

Jo Neville - new Bucks Herald correspondant PNL-141107-174731009

Jo Neville - new Bucks Herald correspondant PNL-141107-174731009

For parents who want to encourage a love of wildlife and being outdoors, College Lake is worth visiting.

Once a chalk quarry, the 65 hectare nature reserve, run by Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is now home to over 1,000 different species.

Deadly 60 presenter, Steve Backshall, has filmed at the reserve and is the Trust’s President.

A visit can be relaxed or active.

There is a two mile, pushchair friendly, circular walk (limited shade so take refreshments) complete with bird hides.

Bring your binoculars and spot rare wetland birds.

The Barn and Courtyard has displays of fossils and traditional farming, a bee centre, an interactive wildlife treasure trove and a grassy picnic area.

Paths lead to a woodland theatre where children enjoy improvising their own shows.

On sunny days, keen nature detectives may find toads and lizards or spy a dragonfly in the Wetland Centre.

BBOWT also runs pre-booked events, such as pond dipping, for a £3 donation.

Claire Garrity, the environmental education manager at the reserve said: “The main aim of College Lake is to inspire a reconnection with nature, children leave here really happy and thrilled by the experience.”

The reserve opens daily from 9.30am to 5pm.

Entry is free, although there is a £3 donation for parking.

The café opens from 10-4pm and serves drinks, sandwiches, homemade cakes and ice creams.

There are toilet facilities at The Visitor Centre and The Barn. Only nine miles from Aylesbury, take the Tring turning off the A41 then follow the brown signs on the B488 towards Dunstable.

For more information go to or phone the Visitor Centre on 01442 826774.

> Email Jo Neville on