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The rangers and Friends of Paxton Pits organise a variety of events throughout the year. You can find out what is happening by visiting the Paxton Pits Nature Reserve website, or viewing our Facebook page.

Visit the Countryside Events page for details of what's on at parks and nature reserves across the district.

Organised group and school visits

Organised groups and school visits are welcome throughout the year. We can plan environmental activities to suit all ages and abilities. The Environmental Education Centre offers a great learning experience for visiting education and community groups. The centre has a large classroom, spacious veranda and a specially made outdoor learning area. 

In the school holidays there are wildlife-related activities for families. There are also Wildlife Watch groups based at Paxton Pits for local children and teenagers. For full details about the activities at the Environmental Education Centre please visit the Wildlife Trust website.

The Visitor Centre has facilities for indoor activities and shelter for wet weather alternatives.

For more information, or to book a visit, please contact the rangers.

Guided walks and talks

The rangers and the Friends of Paxton Pits offer special arrangements for groups such as birdwatching and U3A. To book a visit please contact the rangers. 

Self-guided walks

There are two circular routes with coloured waymarks and numbered posts which start from the Nature Reserve car park:

  • the Heron Trail is 3.2km (2 miles) and goes past lakes, through woodland and along the river bank. It has three bird hides to view the water birds.

  • the Meadow Trail is 2.4km (1.5 miles) and goes through meadows and around lakes. It is especially good for wildflowers in spring and summer and dragonflies on sunny days.

You can also plan your own walk around the reserve using the River Trail and Permissive Paths, which are also waymarked.  These link up with the Heron and Meadow Trails and together can be used to make up a variety of walks of up to 6.4km (4 miles) in length.

Download the reserve leaflet [PDF, 0.4MB]or pick up a copy from the Visitor Centre to help guide you around the paths. There are also information panels with maps at the main entrances to the reserve.

The Ouse Valley Way long distance footpath runs through the reserve by the river.  This has now been connected from ‘source to sea’ so you can follow this path all the way to King's Lynn! Visit our Ouse Valley Way page for more information.

Dog walking

You are welcome to bring your dogs to Paxton Pits, but please remember that it is a nature reserve and others visit the reserve for a quiet walk or to birdwatch. We therefore ask you to:

  • keep to the marked paths

  • keep your dog under close control or on a lead, especially during the birds’ breeding season (April-July)

  • keep your dog out of the water and off the ice during winter – it is dangerous!

  • be aware that the water in the lakes and ditches may contain toxic algae

  • clear up after your dog – there are bins around the reserve and plastic bags are available from the Visitor Centre.

Bird watching

There are three excellent hides from which you can see a variety of birds including herons, cormorants, coots and great crested grebes. Kingfishers and hobbies can also be seen from here if you are lucky and there is a fantastic bustle of cormorants breeding on the islands opposite the Hayden Hide in the spring!


Fishing is permitted on Hayling and Rudd Lakes. For more details and season tickets, please contact Little Paxton Fisheries c/o Ouse Valley Specialist Angling, Huntingdon Street, St Neots (telephone 01480 386088).

A section of the river Great Ouse is also open for fishing. This is looked after by St Neots Angling Society, who can be contacted on 01480 216730.


In the event of an accident or emergency, first aid facilities and a telephone are located in the Visitor Centre. If this is closed, the nearest telephone is located next to St James’ Church on the High Street, Little Paxton.

The paths run very close to deep water in places, so please keep a close eye on children. The lakes are deep and the water is cold, even in the summer, so please do not be tempted to go into the water. Even if the ice looks strong in winter, do not go on it! Skating and swimming are not permitted due to the danger of drowning.