Nunnery Lakes Reserve

The BTO’s Nunnery Lakes Reserve is a County Wildlife Site which lies to the south of Thetford between the Rivers Thet and Little Ouse. It follows a series of lakes created by old gravel workings, and contains a rich variety of Breckland habitats within a relatively small area.

These include dry, sandy heathland, wet woodland and flood meadow, which are home to a remarkable range of resident and seasonal wildlife.

Avian influenza (AI)

Due to the recent rise in severe cases of avian influenza (also known as avian flu and bird flu) in birds across the UK, we must advise visitors not to touch sick or dead birds, should they come across them. It is better that they are dealt with by staff wearing appropriate PPE.

To date, no cases of bird flu have been identified at the Nunnery Lakes Reserve but given the high levels of mobility among birds the potential is always there.

Thank you. 

BTO Reserve Management
Contact: 01842 750050

Wildlife on the reserve

Around sixty species of birds breed here and many more overwinter or pass through on migration in spring and autumn. 

There are Water Voles, Otters, Grass Snakes, Common Lizards and a wide variety of butterflies and dragonflies. Several scarce Breckland plants occur here, including Tower Mustard and Mossy Stonecrop.

Discovery Trail

The Nunnery Lakes Discovery Trail is a series of interpretation panels to guide you around the lakes, and a leaflet is available from BTO reception during office hours (M-T: 9-5.30pm, F-5pm), or for download - .
You can also download a of wildlife you might see around the Discovery Trail. We hope you enjoy your visit.
Select image to enlarge.

Access to the reserve

The reserve is open during daylight hours and free for people to visit and quietly enjoy the countryside. Apart from Arlington Way, paths are unsuitable for wheelchairs but access can be arranged by contacting info [at] in advance. There are three entrances, each with an information panel and map.

A path runs along the River Thet from Arlington Way across a meadow to Nunn’s Bridges, where there is parking beside the Little Ouse. The path continues south along the Little Ouse to a second bridge where a left turn, away from the river, leads to a kissing gate on the right, and a track which runs to the lakes.

From the car park at the BTO, Nunnery Place leads to a track to the river, and beyond the bridge, the kissing gate to the lakes is on the right.

General Information

  • The nearest toilets are on Nunnery Place at the back of BTO (during office hours only).
  • BTO reception is open 9am–5.30pm Mon–Thurs and 9am–5pm Friday.
  • The distance from the Nuns’ Bridges to the Lakes and back is about 3kms/1.5 miles.
  • It is advisable to wear walking boots.
  • All paths are way-marked.
  • Please keep all dogs on a lead.
  • Reserve Manager Ian Henderson can be contacted at ian.henderson [at]

Getting Here

Parking is available at The Nunnery (BTO HQ) and nearby on Nuns' Bridges Road.

Alternatively, the reserve entrance is a 20-minute walk or bus ride from Thetford Station.

Support the Reserve

Got a few hours you could spare? Why not become a Friend of the Nunnery Lakes Reserve and get involved in looking after and improving Thetford's wonderful nature reserve.

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