Maiden Erlegh Local Nature Reserve To Lavell's Lake
This walk, to visit the bird hides on Lavell’s Lake, is between six and seven miles long starting and finishing at MELNR Interpretation Centre on Instow Road. The closer to Loddon Bridge one lives the shorter the walk and the time taken depends on how long one spends in the bird hides. Good stout footwear recommended for this walk and don’t forget to take plenty of water.
From the Interpretation Centre follow the path down towards the weir and turn right immediately before the bridge. Follow the woodland path and at the end of the boardwalk go straight on until the path to Brookside Surgery is reached. Pass through the surgery car park and turn left out of Brookside Close onto Gipsy Lane. At the end of Gipsy Lane cross over Mill Lane and follow the footpath which crosses Toseland Way and goes to the left of the houses in Formby Close. Turn left over the wooden bridge and where the footpath forks take the steps up and pass alongside the garage. Cross Wokingham Road (at the traffic lights), turn right and immediately after crossing Loddon Bridge turn left onto the footpath between the Loddon and the Showcase cinema.
Continue on this path next to the Loddon, passing under the railway bridge (watch out for traffic) and A329M bridges. Cross the Loddon via a wooden bridge and turn right to follow the other side of the Loddon, passing beneath The Bader Way. Re-cross the Loddon at the next wooden bridge and turn left. At this point choose one of two paths running parallel, one next to the Loddon and the other between the Loddon and White Swan Lake (gravelled).
Pass the reed bed at the north end of White Swan Lake and continue on gravel path to the end of Heron’s Water (on the right). At the T-junction turn right and after about 40 paces take a left turn onto the path to Sandford Lake bird hide. After visiting the hide retrace your steps to the junction but this time go straight on keeping Sandford Lake on your right. Turn right onto Sandford Lane and almost immediately turn left into Lavell’s Lake. Follow the path straight ahead and where the path forks take the right hand one that leads to Teal hide.
On leaving Teal hide turn left at the first opportunity and follow the grass path leading onto a bark path beneath some power lines (path runs parallel with Sandford Lane). The path changes back to grass and where it meets asphalt turn left to Tern hide (look at the bird feeders through the fence on the left next to the hide.
After leaving Tern hide turn right at the junction for a short distance and about ten metres beyond a bench turn left (before reaching the bark path). Cross Sandford Lane and go back into Dinton Pastures. At this point there are two alternatives for the return walk. 1) Turn right and follow the footpath round Sandford Lake to meet with the path you arrived on and retrace your steps back to the Maiden Erlegh. 2) Turn left (longer route) until the footpath diverges, turn left over a small wooden bridge and immediately right onto the gravel path and follow the edge of Black Swan Lake. When a T-junction is met turn right and follow this path, keeping Tufty’s Corner on the left and White Swan Lake on the right until you reach the wooden bridge crossed earlier. Follow the same route back to Maiden Erlegh but in reverse. For those who do not mind the noise of the A329M and a lot of mud there is a shorter route back via Tufty’s Corner. Turn left on leaving Tufty’s Corner and follow the Loddon on the opposite side from the outward walk. This route eventually meets up with the other (first) wooden bridge that crosses the Loddon.
Thanks to Liz Wild for the description and Paul Beckett for the Photos.