OS map ref: SK 603104 (Sheet 246)
The reserve is situated to the south of Wanlip village, alongside the River Soar, between the City of Leicester and Loughborough. From Rectory Road, Wanlip, turn into Church Road and then right at the 'T' junction. Cars can be parked at the bottom of the lane. Alternatively the reserve can be entered on foot from the adjacent Watermead Country Park.
A hide in the country park, specially built by Leicestershire County Council, overlooks the reserve.
In order to minimise disturbance to wildlife on the reserve, visitors are asked to stay on the footpaths, which have been marked.
We encourage visitors to use environmentally friendly forms of transport wherever possible. Most of our reserves are easily accessible by bicycle with many close to the National Cycle Network. Please note that cycling is not permitted on the nature reserve itself.
Public transport - contact Traveline for further information www.traveline.org.uk or phone 0871 200 22 33.
Dogs are permitted on this nature reserve but only under strict control - able to bring to heel at all times. Dogs should be kept out of the water.
Wanlip Meadows covers 16.2 ha and was purchased by the Trust in 2004.
Wanlip Meadows was quarried for gravel during the 1990's, the pits then being filled with bricks and other 'inert' waste, with finer material laid over this. They were finally covered with top-soil and sown with grass. Not all of the site was dug, however, including a strip alongside the river. A number of the original tall hedges were retained.
Wanlip Meadows lies next to the River Soar, which floods occasionally in winter. As the flood water receeds shallow pools of water form on the reserve, especially at the northern end. The pools dry up in the summer exposing areas of mud, forming good habitat for many birds. The flood-water deposits the seeds of wetland plants all over the reserve and as a consequence marsh and swamp vegetation have developed.
Cattle grazing is employed to control the growth of willow scrub and coarse vegetation. Tall hedges will be left to provide food and cover for insects and birds. We control the willows that are germinating in large numbers. It is our intention to minimise the amount of work we carry out on the reserve, so that eventually grazing will be sufficient to maintain the wetland habitats, although the proportions of scrub, marsh, swamp and open water will change over the years and through the seasons.
The scrape on the northern field attracts birds at all times of the year. Wildfowl such as teal are regular in winter. Large flocks of greylag and Canada geese are often present. It is the waders that are of most interest to visitors, perhaps, with species such as snipe, green sandpiper and redshank regularly seen. Wader numbers depend on the season and the amount of mud exposed around the edge of the pool.
Uncommon species recorded so far include Temminck's stint and wood sandpiper. Large flocks of golden plover are sometimes present in winer.
Grey herons are often present too. Reed bunting and reed warbler probably breed in the reedbeds developing alongside the river.
Grass-snakes, toads and frogs have all been recorded on the reserve, along with a growing list of dragonfiles and butterflies.
Many wetland plants have already colonised the large scrape. Amonst the more notable are grey club-rush, needle spike-rush and blue water-speedwell.
Why not join one of our teams of volunteers. We have regular work parties covering reserves in this area, including Wanlip Meadows.