South West Lakes is dedicated to caring for and enhancing the South West’s reservoirs and lakes: they are home to wonderful animals and boast important habitats and built historic sites. We pride ourselves on enabling people of all abilities to enjoy these special locations by providing access both on and off the water.
Every year, millions of people visit lakes and reservoirs across the UK. They provide a perfect setting for a great day out, be it for a stroll, to play, nature watch or enjoy adventurous activities such as stand up paddle boarding, kayaking or sailing.
As an independent charity, our purpose is to protect special places for people and wildlife; in doing this we care for over 40 inland waters in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Ranging in size from one to nine hundred acres, the lakes provide unrivalled access to watersports, angling, walking and cycling, and are places you can be active or play and explore all day long. It’s your outdoors – come and explore!
In Exmoor there are two South West Lakes reservoirs – Wistlandpound and Wimbleball Lake:
Wistlandpound Reservoir, located on the edge of Exmoor National Park, is a haven for wildlife and provides a beautiful and tranquil setting for a woodland walk or a day spent in the great outdoors.
Walking: There are two main paths that wind around the perimeter of the lake and through the surrounding deep alpine green spruce plantations. The lower path is an easy, flat and very accessible route. The upper path takes you through Forestry Commission land and is slightly less even underfoot (and sometimes muddy), but it remains flat. This is a great place to pull on your wellington boots, splash in the puddles and breathe in the fresh air. Wheelchair and pushchair accessible paths have been created around the reservoir, to allow people of all abilities to enjoy being outdoors.
Wildlife: An established nature reserve, Wistlandpound boasts a small area of species rich grassland where orchids grow. Look out for bright purple rosebay willowherb in the spring too. The bird hide provides an ideal stopping point for watching wildfowl and wading birds; you might even spot a great white egret over the winter period.
Fishing: Fishing for brown trout is available at Wistlandpound, and is a favourite reservoir for the angler seeking a more natural and wild environment. Fly-fishing season is 15 March- 12 October.
Wimbleball is a hub of colour and activity throughout all the seasons. Nestled within the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park, there are plenty of ways to get active at Wimbleball. With an array of walking and cycling trails winding around the 530 acre site, and a fantastic range of watersports and other activities available, this is the perfect location to spend a day outdoors – whether you are looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging expedition.
Stargaze at Wimbleball: Pay a visit after dark and look up to the sky! Located within Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve on Exmoor, Wimbleball is a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site and is the perfect place to stargaze and engage with nature and the outdoors in its greatest form.
Activities: Take the opportunity to let off steam in our informal play area, or explore the atmospheric woodlands. You can also get on the water or enjoy a camping break at Wimbleball Lake. With a range of activities including kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and sailing, our friendly activity team are on hand to help you discover an activity as a family, organised group or individual. You can also enjoy excellent trout fishing at Wimbleball Lake.
Wildlife: Visitors can expect to find a range of wildfowl, as well as mammalian varieties such as hedgehogs, weasels and, if you are lucky (and quiet!), the iconic Exmoor red deer. In spring butterflies take flight, including the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Boloria selene. Look out for beautiful orchids in the wildflower meadow, and spot wax caps in the grassy banks near the Activity Centre in late autumn and winter. Try birdwatching from the bird hide.