Know before you go
Parking informationOn street parking at both entrances.
The reserve includes an area of Open Access Land off Sandy Lane, with open sandy paths, permissive circular route under development.
Public Right of Way Footpath 12 from Shore Lane/Lytchett Way entrance - flat, short walk, can be muddy with wet access around field gate and kissing gate.
Permissive access in other areas:
Poole Harbour Trail route 5b
Kissing gates suitable for medium mobility at both entrances.
No motorbikes, horses or cycles please.
No access to the water, mudflats and reedbeds.
Danger deep water
Gates give access to the main paths at the entrances for both parts of the reserve. No paths linking the two parts. Please be aware of deep water, ditches and hidden ponds, intertidal mudflats and tidal changes. Parts of this site may change between visits and weather conditions. Adders and ticks are present. Please see our 'Visitor Information' page for more details. The nature reserve map can be viewed below.
When to visit
Opening timesAll year round
Best time to visitAutumn and winter for wading birds and wildfowl; spring and summer for warblers, nightjar, reptiles and insects
About the reserve
In a sheltered northern corner of Poole Harbour, the coarse heathland of the Lytchett Bay reserve gradually transforms to long, feathery marshland grasses and smooth tidal mud flats, creating an ideal habitat for a variety of reptiles and birds, including rare and migrant species. The reserve is part of The Great Heath Living Landscape and managed in partnership with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. This internationally important area is one of few places where the natural change from heathland to marshland habitats, which could once be found all round Poole Harbour, can be experienced. The reserve is also part of the Lytchett Bay Nature Park, a crucial area for wading birds and wildfowl.
The heathland habitat supports a range of species including rare reptiles and rare breeding birds. Sand lizards bask in the sun, while Dartford warblers sing from perches above. At dusk on a warm, summer evening, listen out for the churring song of visiting a nightjar. Summer also brings the repetitive song of the migrant reed warbler drifting through the golden-tipped reed beds. Year-round, wildfowl and waders, such as little egrets, make the most of the abundant invertebrate life of the sheltered mudflats, including worms, crustaceans, molluscs and insect larvae. In addition to rich birdlife, 19 species of fish have been recorded in the Bay.
A choice of two parts of the reserve to visit in Upton, Poole. 1. At junction of Lytchett Way and Shore Lane, Upton signposted Footpath No.12; 2. Sandy Lane, Upton (just west of Otter Close). Safe pavement walking to reserve from Upton, Hamworthy and Lytchett Minster. Short distance from Moorland Way bus stop routes 8 and 9. 1.2km from Hamworthy Train Station. On street parking.