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Chard Reservoir LNR is a fantastic site for bird watching and walking, following wildflower meadows through to woodland edge surrounding the expanse of open water with spectacular scenery. There is a small children’s woodland play area.

We are dog friendly and they are welcome on the reserve but there is a strict ‘dogs on short leads’ zone in the woodland and dogs are not allowed in the woodland near the bird hide.

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Donate to make a difference

If you have enjoyed a visit to Chard Reservoir Local Nature Reserve and would like to contribute to help look after this special reserve, please use the donate button to give a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will go towards projects such as improving the wetland habitats for dragonflies, native planting for pollinators and wildlife nest boxes.

Thank you, your contributions really do make a difference.

To make a donation, please visit Donate – Visit South Somerset.


  • Parking on-site
  • Toilets
  • Picnic Area
  • Fishing
  • Family friendly
  • Free entry
  • Partial Disabled Access
  • Biodiversity diversity
  • Dogs welcomed
  • Open all year round
  • Play Park

Visitor information

Information about the area, car parking, accessibility and more

Chard Reservoir local nature reserve is situated on the north east fringe of Chard, near to the village of Chaffcombe. The nature reserve comprises a mixture of habitats from the open water of the reservoir itself with a woodland edge opening into wildflower meadows.

The views that are offered across the water are breath-taking in any weather and season. The reserve is just a 15-minute walk from Chard Town centre and yet offers the seclusion and peacefulness of a more rural setting.

A network of paths leading from the main car park at Oaklands Avenue, take you across the wildflower meadows towards the woodland play zone and bird hide or towards the shoreline and the woodland edge walk.

A brief history 

Chard Reservoir was constructed in 1842 to provide water to the Chard canal, which linked through to Ilminster. Following the arrival of the railway to Chard, the reservoir and canal became redundant in 1868. However, the Reservoir was never entirely disused; it became part of the sporting estate of the Earl Poulet and this sporting use continued on its sale to Colonel Gifford in 1913 and on subsequent sale to the Blackburn estate in 1973.

During war time the reservoir, was used as a ‘holiday at home’ centre and was known as the “Chard Lido”. The idea of such centres was to take away the pressure of holiday makers from the railways needed during wartime mobilisation. Organised swimming and boating events took place with great enthusiasm (Chard and Ilminster News).

The reservoir was conveyed to South Somerset District Council in 1990, as a result of an agreement involving the development of Chard Business Park.

Car parking

There are two car parks at Chard Reservoir.

The main one (Oaklands car park) is at Oaklands Avenue (TA20 1HU) and open 24/7.

The secondary car park (Anglers car park), with priority parking for anglers is on Chaffcombe Road (TA20 1RR) and is open from 8am to 5pm. If your car gets locked in the car park, there is a number on the gate to call to be released.

Please note that this car park may be closed at other times too if there is an angling competition on. Please check the Chard Angling Club website for these dates in advance.


We are dog friendly and they are welcome on the reserve but there is a strict ‘dogs on short leads’ zone in the woodland and dogs are not allowed in the woodland near the bird hide.

We ask all dog owners to pick up this dog’s mess throughout the reserve to keep it safe and clean for the many children and families that visit. There are ample dog bins throughout the reserve. Please keep your dogs under control throughout the site and stick to the paths to prevent trampling of wildflowers and disturbance to wildlife.

Dogs are strictly not allowed on the shoreline.


There are no refreshment facilities on site but Chard town centre is a 15 minute walk from the reserve or less than 5 minutes by car or bicycle.

Chard Reservoir Volunteer Group

The Chard Reservoir Volunteer Group are a constituted group that help to raise funds and initiate projects at the Reservoir. Previous projects have included the woodland play area, wildflower plots, tree planting as part of the Woodland Trusts campaign.

The group are currently developing a children’s trail leaflet after securing funding from South Somerset District Council’s Area West community grant.

If you would like to get involved with the Volunteer Group please email us at

ChardCast Project – Chard Museum’s Podcast

The ChardCast project is being developed by Chard Museum on behalf of Culturally Chard. It is funded by South Somerset District Council and Historic England.

Richard Tomlinson will be leading groups and individuals through the process of producing future ChardCast episodes. Themes include Astonishing Inventions, the Carnival, Making of the Banners of Chard, the impact of the Reservoir and Chard Goes Global: Chard Together which will share perceptions of the town as multicultural.

Visit Chard Cast – Chard Museum to find out more and to listen to the latest ChardCast episodes including Chard’s Natural Gem about Chard Reservoir.


There is one eco-toilet for use located next to the Anglers car park. The toilet is self-composting and therefore reduces the impact on the environment. There is no running water in the toilet but hand sanitiser is available for use.



Fishing is permitted at the reservoir through the Chard Angling Club. For more information about membership and purchasing of day tickets visit their Chard Angling Club website.

Trekkers Tim’s Trail

Grab yourself a leaflet from Oaklands Car Park or download one from our website to help Trekker Tim answer questions whilst he is out on his adventures around the reservoir.


There’s a few hidden treasures around the reservoir – download the Geocaching app to see if you can find them.


Cycling is not permitted across the reserve, the paths are too narrow and busy.

However you can cycle along the Sustrans off-road cycle path to Ilminster and link to the wider cycling network on route 33.

Find out more about the ‘Stop Line Way’ on the Sustrans website.


There is a mixture of surfaced paths throughout the reserve, ranging from tarmac to grass to compacted gravel. There are no steep gradients at the reserve and so all of the paths are easily accessible with a pushchair. However, the surfacing on the paths in the woodland may make it difficult for some wheelchair users. Mobility vehicles can be used throughout the reserve.


There is always something to piquet the interest of any birder or wildlife lover at Chard Reservoir.

At this time of year (summer) you can enjoy the hundreds of orchids that emerge in the wildflower meadows, including pyramidal, early purple and common spotted orchids. The Knapweed meadow becomes awash with purples and yellows as the knapweed and birdsfoot trefoil come into flower. Along with the wildflowers arrive the insects including meadow brown, marbled white and common blue butterflies.

In the Rushy meadow, near the stream dragonflies congregate to feed and defend territories. Common blue damselfly, beautiful and banded demoiselles and broad bodied chasers are common here.

In the woodland, birds are plentiful and you will easily spot or hear the woodland specialists such as nuthatch, treecreeper and great spotted woodpeckers. There are many bird boxes throughout the woodland, erected by volunteers and you will spot mostly blue and great tits using these.

Also look out for speckled wood butterflies along the paths in the woodland. As their name suggests, they like the dappled sunlight of woodland edges.

On the water mallard duck, tufted duck, coot, mute swan and great crested grebe are resident throughout the year. In the summer the water attracts many species of gulls including black headed and herring gull. If you are lucky you may be able to spot a Mediterranean gull in amongst them all. The distinguishing feature of the Mediterranean gull is its very black head (the black-headed’ look brown in comparison) and bright red beak and legs. Many species of hirundine, including swallow, house martin, sand martin and swift can be seen feeding over the water, particularly in poor weather when they fly much lower to catch the insects.

Along the fringes of the water you will hear reed warbler and in the scrub blackcap can be heard. Chiffchaffs sing their repetitive call from the surrounding willows and alders and occasionally a willow warbler can be heard too. Kingfishers can be seen darting across then water, particularly near the bird hide, using the purpose-built perches to look for food.

Mammals are harder to spot at the reservoir, but look in the surrounding fields and water’s edge for roe deer and red fox. Otters also inhabit the waterways but they are seldom seen.

In the water, carp are the anglers’ target species, best viewed from the bird hide. Pike, bream, tench and roach are also present in the reservoir.

For daily bird sightings, visit Birdwatching – Chard Reservoir.


Can I use a kayak or paddle board on the reservoir?

Unfortunately not. The reservoir is managed as a nature reserve and there is angling on site too. This means there are areas that are not open for public access. There simply isn’t the space for more activities without detriment to the wildlife on the water and shoreline.

Can I swim at Chard Reservoir?

Swimming is strictly prohibited at Chard Reservoir, due to the poor water quality in the summer and the very deep water. There would also be a conflict with the site being managed as a Nature Reserve and angling on the site.

Can I use a remote control boat on the reservoir?

Unfortunately not, for the same reasons stated above.

Can I use a drone at the nature reserve?

Drone use is strictly regulated across all of our sites to prevent disturbance to the wildlife and so that the privacy of our visitors is respected. If you have a good reason for wanting to fly a drone across any of our countryside sites, you will need to email the Countryside Manager to request permission, along with a copy of your public liability insurance and certification to fly a drone.

Please email for permission to fly a drone.

Can I have a BBQ or small campfire on site?


Due to the high fire risk and detriment to the wildlife, barbeques and campfires are strictly prohibited at Chard Reservoir.

Can I camp or stay overnight at Chard Reservoir LNR?

Unfortunately not. We have had a few negative incidences with campers and campervans causing trouble and/or littering the site and so we do not allow overnight stays. The only exception are bivvies for anglers that have paid to be on site overnight.


Leaflets, maps and information downloads


We’ll keep you posted here with latest information about projects at Chard Reservoir Local Nature Reserve.


Information on the volunteering opportunities available

Practical conservation volunteers (No vacancies at the moment)

There are two weekly practical volunteering sessions held at Chard Reservoir every week. One on a Wednesday morning from 9.30am to 12.30pm and one on a Friday from 9.30am to 12.30pm. The types of tasks they do include litter picking, maintenance of the paths, maintenance of the woodland play area, hedge laying, tree planting and much more.

You do not need to have any experience to join in, just a willingness to get involved and a passion for nature.

The volunteer tasks are physical in nature so you need to have a fairly good level of fitness.

If you would like to join the volunteers, please call the ranger Hannah Stanton on 07971 111955 or email to check if there are places available.

Butterfly survey volunteers wanted 

Fancy trying something new, and learning something about your local wildlife too? Would you like volunteer your time to record butterfly species down here at Chard Reservoir LNR?

We are looking for volunteers that would be available April through to September to record the species we have down here, which will contribute to the sites wildlife records and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme’s database. We would be looking to carry out surveys every Wednesday at 2pm (weather permitting) – there is no obligation to do this week in and week out, but if you had any time you wanted to give to the reservoir for these surveys, your time would be truly appreciated.

Depending on the amount of volunteers we have that are interested, we make work this on a rotational basis to give everyone a fair opportunity to get stuck in.

If you are interested, please get in touch and the site ranger will be able to provide you further information.

Please call Hannah on 07971 111955 or email

Group visits

How to organise a group visit

The Community Heritage Officer can cater for private families, community groups or deliver curriculum based educational sessions at Chard Reservoir. Please call Edd Chilcott on 07458 074 843 or email

External Organisations

If you are an external organisation that wishes to host your event at Chard Reservoir please contact us.

There may be a charge to host your event, but all charitable events are free. We will need to see a copy of your risk assessment, public liability insurance and an application form must be completed to hold an event at Chard Reservoir.

Application form to hold an event at an Somerset Council Countryside Site (PDF 111KB)

Contact details

Telephone 0300 1232224


Address Oaklands Car Park (Chard Reservoir), Oaklands Avenue, Chard, Somerset TA20 1HU, United Kingdom