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Chew Valley Lake

Chew Valley Lake is well known for its birds, including internationally important numbers of wildfowl. The Trust reserve is at the southern end of the site and is managed in partnership with Bristol Water.

Breeding birds include great crested and little grebe, gadwall, tufted duck, shoveler and pochard. Hobbies often feed over the area in late summer. When the water level falls, the mud attracts waders such as dunlin, ringed plover and green sandpipers.

Summer sees large populations of dragonflies hunting over the water. These include ruddy darters and, later in the summer, migrant hawkers. Wintering wildfowl include important numbers of shoveler, gadwall, teal and tufted duck. Goosander, great crested grebe and cormorant also occur in large amounts.

The reedbeds are a vital autumn feeding station for reed and sedge warblers prior to their migration. The winter gull roost is a spectacular sight with up to 50,000 or more, mostly of black-headed, common and Mediterranean gull. Chew Valley Lake often attracts rare birds, including osprey, the scarcer grebes, and an American wader or duck appears most years.


There is a visitor centre and cafe run by Bristol Water at the picnic site near the dam.
The Chew Valley Lake Birding website contains frequently updated news and information on its birds and wildlife, access, maps, and the definitive Chew bird list!

Species and habitats


Nearby nature reserves

Burledge Hill
1 miles - Avon Wildlife Trust
Folly Farm
3 miles - Avon Wildlife Trust
Hollow Marsh Meadow
3 miles - Somerset Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

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Reserve information

On the A368 where the road crosses the lake between West Harptree and Sutton Wick.
Bishop Sutton
Map reference
ST 568 584
Great for...
overwintering birds
Best time to visit
Apr - Jul
Oct - Feb
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Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
For details of the visitor centre and cafe please visit the Bristol Water Chew Valley Lake website
Visitor centre
Picnic facilities
74.80 hectares

Hides with permit only, obtainable from Bristol Water Recreation Department, Woodford Lodge. General access available from the road side and picnic areas. Pavements run along the main road side, paths to picnic sites. Contact the Trust for disabled access information
Walking information
Pavements run along the main road side, paths to picnic sites.
Parking is avalible along the main road side
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Avon Wildlife Trust
Tel: 0117 917 7270
Avon Wildlife Trust