Conningbrook Lakes Country Park
Know before you go
Parking informationThere is a flat tarmac car park at the Julie Rose Stadium. Disabled parking bays near to lake edge.
Bicycle parkingParking provided in front of the Julie Rose Stadium entrance.
Grazing animalsSheep and cattle anytime of the year.
There is currently no circular walk around the site. Allow 2 hours to reach the furthest end of the reserve and get back to the car park. Alternatively, you can continue your walk by crossing the railway line and walking back down the road from the Conningbrook Hotel Pub. A new bridge joins with footpaths heading towards Wye, and there are good pedestrian links to central Ashford. The paths around the country park do become wet and muddy over winter, so walking boots or wellies are advised over this period.
Wheelchair accessible Tarmac path with downward slope from main car park. Flat, grass paths around the remainder of the site – which become muddy in the winter. Wooden pedestrian gates between compartments. Picnic benches at beginning of walk, and log benches around the lakes.
When to visit
Opening timesWalking access all year round.
Best time to visitOctober - November for overwintering birds. June - for dragonflies.
About the reserve
This former gravel and sand extraction pit has been transformed into a series of three lakes – the Main lake, Eco lake and Northern lake. These lakes are encompassed by wet woodland, ponds, reedbeds and grasslands. Kent Wildlife Trust are managing over half of the site on behalf of Ashford Borough Council (ABC); with Ashford Leisure Trust (ALT) and Mid Kent Fisheries also working in partnership. The reserve has great views and footpaths to the Wye Downs, and good access links from Ashford – a gateway to the Stour Valley.
The reserve is rich in birdlife on and around the lakes. Take a frosty morning walk in the winter months to see the migratory wildfowl and wetland birds, including species such as shoveller, wigeon, tufted duck and Gadwall. In the spring, catch the migrating warbler species and breeding birds around the lake edges, and hear the skylarks singing in the skies over the summer. Look out for the kingfishers zipping across the surface of the lakes and along the river profile.
Conningbrook offers a large array of butterfly and dragonfly species in the summer months, keep your eyes peeled for weasels darting across the paths, and grass snakes bathing in the sunshine.
Whether it be a brisk walk, a gentle stroll, a wildlife watch area, or to pitch up on one of the picnic tables for an alfresco picnic – Conningbrook has something to offer all.
For more details visit the park's profile on Ashford Borough Council's website.