This wetland haven is worth visiting all year around, but comes alive in the winter, when rafts of ducks, like wigeon and teal, gather on the lakes, and short-eared owls hunt over the meadows. Wrap up warm enjoy a brisk winter walk to one of the best wildlife spots in the Soar Valley.

Location

Syston Road, Cossington
LE7 4UZ

OS Map Reference

SK 597130 (Sheet 246)
A static map of Cossington Meadows

Know before you go

Size
89 hectares

Entry fee

Free

Parking information

Cars can be parked off the road outside the main entrance on the Syston Road or in the small public car park adjacent to Cossington Parish Church. Head west out of Cossington on Syston Road towards Rothley, the reserve is on your right, north of the road.

Grazing animals

Livestock may be present

Access

The reserve is situated to the west of Cossington village, alongside the River Soar. There is also access at several other points, where public footpaths enter the reserve.

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Always open

Best time to visit

Winter

About the reserve

Cossington Meadows lies next to the river Soar and is one of LRWT’s star reserves to enjoy a spot of birdwatching and a wander through this diverse wetland. The deep pools attract a whole range of wildfowl, such as gadwall, tufted duck and mallard, and parties of wigeon and teal join in throughout the winter months, as well as wintering geese and swans. This can be great site for spotting a rare bird or two, with rarities in recent years including velvet scoter, glossy ibis and American wigeon. As you wander along the paths, keep an eye out in the winter months for short-eared owls, which hunt over the meadows and perch on the fence posts. This is one of the best spots in the East Midlands to enjoy this amazing wildlife experience.

During heavy winter rains, the river floods. As the flood water recedes, shallow pools of water form on the reserve. The pools dry up in the summer creating muddy habitats for wading birds, like green sandpiper, greenshank, oystercatcher, redshank, lapwing and little ringed plover and the last three of these all nest on the reserve. Grey herons can always be spotted stalking along the water’s edge, and there’s always a chance of seeing kingfisher, grey wagtail and kestrel.

Grass-snakes, toads and frogs all make their home here, although you’ll need to be lucky to spot them. Spring and summer are best – check the pools and muddy edges. Migrant hawker and black-tailed skimmer dragonflies are seen in the summer, along with butterflies like small copper, common blue and brimstone.

We have worked hard to make this one of the best wetland sites along the River Soar, creating ‘scrapes’, re-profiling the steep banks of ditches, digging new ponds, putting out rafts for common terns and establishing reedbeds. We want to work with natural processes, such as flooding, to encourage new plants. This will be an ever-changing nature reserve, so visit at different times of year to see the difference the seasons make.

The Trust’s fish refuge at Cossington Meadows is an extensive pool connected by a channel to the adjacent River Soar. It is designed to boost coarse fish in the river, improving the river’. The enables fish to escape the main flow when the river is in flood then re-join the river when water levels drop. It also provides a haven fish to breed and spawn, too.