If “Fleet Pond” conjures up images of wet areas on village greens and fish tanks in suburban gardens, then think again. Fleet Pond is on a much larger scale: it’s Hampshire’s largest freshwater lake with an surface area of 21 hectares (52 acres).
The lake and its surroundings comprise Fleet Pond Local Nature Reserve whose reed beds, marshes, heathland and woodland provide sanctuary for a rich and diverse community of animal and plant life.
The Reserve’s total area is 57 hectares (141 acres) of which 48 hectares (118 acres) is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) comprising wetlands, the lake and dry heathland. You may spot some of the 180 kinds of birds, 26 types of butterfly, 21 species of dragonfly and 400 wild flowers to be seen in its variety of habitats.
It’s managed by the Fleet Pond Society – a resourceful and dedicated band of local volunteers – in co-operation with Hart Countryside Services. The Society is the voluntary arm of the Reserve’s management team. Formed in 1976 as a result of the concerns of local people at the deteriorating condition of the Reserve, the Society manages and agrees priorities with Fleet Pond Ranger, Louise Greenwood.
The circular path
The Society’s first task was to complete a circular path around the lake. This was completed in 1978 by a large band of dedicated volunteers.
The circular path is just over 3km (2 miles) in length and I completed it without difficulty with my wheelchair, partly while seated and propelling myself, partly while pushing it.
The circuit is indicated by yellow marker posts and described in an excellent leaflet produced by the Fleet Pond Society and Hart District Council Countryside Services. Click HERE to view and download this leaflet, which includes a map and descriptions of the Reserve’s habitats.
Superb boardwalks have been built to cross marshy sections. The path through the woodland is of earth and presented no problems despite a few wet patches – but I must add there had been very little rain during the weeks before we visited in February 2012. The compacted stone surface on much of the western and northern parts of the circuit path is sound, although rough in places and somewhat hard going if you are propelling a wheelchair yourself.
We set out from the car park to follow the yellow route in a clockwise direction but found the precise route from the car park and within the picnic area and sandhills (see the map in the leaflet) to be indistinct and far from flat. This may be fine for walkers but isn’t wheelchair-friendly. Next time we’ll take the well-made path (running parallel to the railway) from the north-eastern edge of the car park to reach the lakeside path, then turn left or right to walk clockwise or anticlockwise. At the end of the circuit we’ll return to the car park by the same path.
Fleet Pond’s car park is off the A3013, near junction 4A of the M3.
Location on Streetmap: http://bit.ly/wGTKQL
The turning from the A3013 is marked by a brown fingerboard sign. Turn left if approaching from Farnborough or junction 4A of the M3, turn right if coming from Fleet.
Bear right immediately after crossing a railway bridge, then follow the track to the car park.
**The track to the car park was in a very poor condition with many very deep ruts when we used it in February 2012.**
If you find these pages useful, please leave a comment below.
To report errors or make suggestions please use the contact form by clicking HERE
All the photos on this page were taken by Sue Slater