Hook with Warsash Local Nature Reserve
Over 500 acres at the mouth of the river Hamble, including intertidal mudflats and a shoreline almost 3 miles long. There are a variety of habitats of which some are regionally rare and declining. Access to the reserve is via a network of public footpaths. The two public car parks close to the waterfront at Warsash are an ideal starting point.
Suggested routes are marked in red on the site map.
The paths south of the car parks can be uneven and at times very wet. Wheelchair users are advised to use the path north from the car parks in Warsash through Bunny Meadows.
Public car park at Passage Lane and Shore Road, Warsash
- Mainly level paths with gentle gradients
- Kissing gates at most entry points
- Surfaced level path at Hook Lake to the edge of Southampton Water - RADAR lock at entrance gate
- Surfaced path at Bunny Meadows - along east bank of River Hamble - with wheelchair access from Passage Lane car park
- Bunny Meadow path may be liable to occasional flooding on very high tides
- Seats at regular intervals at Bunny Meadows
- Guide dogs and assistance dogs welcome.
- Dogs allowed under close control
Public conveniences are sited in the northernmost of the two car parks
Accessible toilets also at Passage Lane, Warsash.
Species and habitat biodiversity
The foreshore and intertidal areas provide an important winter feeding ground for many species of wading birds and wildfowl including Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits,
Viewing is best from about 2½ hours before high tide. The curving Hook Spit is regularly used by roosting Turnstones as well as by a few pairs of breeding Ringed Plovers, but these shingle zones are most interesting for their plant species such as Sea Kale, Sea Beet, Yellow-horned Poppy, Sea Campion, Sea Sandwort and Sand Couch Grass.
The areas of grassland and scrub on Hook Links support a variety of breeding birds including Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and the occasional pair of Stonechats. Hook Links is a good area for migrants. Dartford and other Warblers, and flycatchers often visit in autumn.
In the wettest areas brackish plant species such as Divided Sedge, Glaucous Bulrush and Sea Clubrush can be found. The improved grassland above the links is relatively poor in plant species but it is here that feeding flocks of Lapwings, Curlew and Brent Geese occur from late autumn and through winter.
At Hook Lake all stages in the process of natural succession from open water to mature woodland can be seen. The reedbeds support numerous pairs of breeding Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings and some Cetti's Warblers, whilst on or over the nearby open water Herons, Teal, Coots, Little Grebes and Kingfishers may be seen. As reedbed gives way to Alder carr and then to mature Oak and Beech so almost all the typical woodland birds are found, including Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Nuthatches, Willow Warblers and three Woodpecker species. The foreshore and intertidal areas provide an important winter feeding ground for many species of wading birds and wildfowl including Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Shelduck and Brent Geese. Viewing is best from about 2½ hours before high tide.