We are often asked “What can I see at the park?”, “How long do I need there?” and “What are the trails like?” so regular visitor Hannah has written a blog for us, along with plenty of images, to give our potential visitors an insight into a day spent at Buckland Park Lake.
Buckland Park is a former sand quarry, one of four quarries that was owned and run by the Buckland Sand & Silica Co Ltd. Quarrying ended 30 years ago and since then, nature has been left to flourish, with a little help.
The sandy beach, sandstone cliffs and species of trees you see here, give the park a real Mediterranean feel to me. Add in the clear sparkling blue lake and it really can make you forget you are in Surrey. There are always different flowers and plants to appreciate and I really enjoy the different areas around the park. It’s a lovely place to come and witness the changing seasons. This walk was in August 2022.
When you arrive and park up you will see the water sports lagoon with kids natural splash pond and benches on the grassy bank. Along with The SHAC base, The Outdoor Activity Centre (where you can find toilets), the children’s play area and El Rocinante, the mobile food truck. Sophia and Luke offer a variety of snacks, drinks, sweet treats and more substantial meals like nachos and burgers. I love their plant based burger.
I started my walk on the Lake Circuit Walk, walking anticlockwise and starting on the path that runs between The SHAC base and the children’s playground. Just off to the right of the children’s play area are sandstone cliffs which provide homes to sand martins, bees and other insects in the soft cliff face. I love seeing the Sand Martins ducking in and out of their nests, swooping across the lake bug catching. The best time to spot them is from April until September.
There’s generally some activity in the lagoon to watch, whether it’s swimming or SUP, as you walk along its North edge and you get a great view of the Boathouse (formerly the sand processing plant).
You can then take a mini detour from the trail to walk on the grassy peninsula, along the West side of the lagoon (shaded picnic cabanas will be provided here from Summer 2023). This spot gives you a different view of the boat house and you can also see The Sandrock private hire pavilion perched up high on its rocky outcrop. This is also where you get your first view of the main lake. The edge of the lake is quite marshy, so good for wildlife spotting. I enjoyed watching the bees on the Purple Loosestrife. It’s a peaceful spot for a picnic.
I re-joined the trail, which takes you through a narrower section, with trees and shrubs on both sides. You pass a dark green algae pond, before the trail opens out at the North West Corner of the lake. This area is always very peaceful. There are always plenty of water birds in this area who have made their homes on the small marshy islands.
You can look back and see the Pavilion, the steps up to the picnic lawn and if you look lower down you are looking at the ‘Boat House’ Trail, which I will come on to later.
Walking time so far 25 minutes. But at a very leisurely pace and stopping to take photos.
The trail then heads down the West side of the lake. In the afternoon this area can be shaded by the limestone cliffs and it tends to be a little breezier down this edge, in my experience. Because of the shade it can be a bit boggier during the cooler months, so something to be aware of if you are planning on bringing a buggy.
You can see the limestone cliffs off to your right and looking left you can see the Reigate Heath Windmill. A grade II listed mill which has been restored and now used as a chapel. Thought to be the only windmill in the world that is also a consecrated church.
About halfway along the lake you come to Swift, one of the bird hides. There is also a bench and this is a lovely view point to take in the lake and birdlife. A number of plants and flowers skirt the lake including Norfolk reeds which provide cover for many of the water birds. The lake is very shallow around the edges and you can see how clean the water is.
When you reach the South West corner, and if you are at the right time of the year (June/July) you will see hundreds of Oxeye daisies, which look stunning. Even after these have faded, the bank still has lots of other wild flowers including the occasional wild orchid and is really pretty.
Walking time so far 40 mins
You then skirt along the South side of the lake, so likely back into the sun if you were in shade on the West side. The lake is shallow at the edge the whole way along and we often sit and watch the dragonflies and pond skaters here (best in the South East corner)
You can look back at The Reverie, The Sandrock and see the pines that surround the picnic lawn and the Surrey Hills beyond the park. There is another bench here if you would like to sit and enjoy this perspective.
A short time after rounding the South East corner you have a choice of trails;
- You can head left, down the slope to the Boathouse walk and Finch bird hide
- Continue straight ahead then veer off left, through woodland that takes you to the picnic lawn and The Reverie.
- Turn right and join the Woodland Walk that takes you past The Shac’s Viking Camp and eventually you pop out by the ticket office you would have passed on your way in.
- Or continue straight, passing the Fisherman’s Hut on your left and join the tarmac road onto the road, where you can head back to the parking area.
1. BOAT HOUSE WALK
Walking time so far (1 hour)
After taking the slope down to the lake side you can find my favourite bird hide, Swift. It’s really tucked out of the way. The trail you walk passes along the edge of the limestone cliffs, on which The Reverie and the picnic lawn sit. I love the long reeds and rushes down here. You follow the trail and it brings you past the base of the Boathouse, along the south side of the lagoon and back to the slope into the lagoon, where you can turn left back to the carpark, or continue up the tarmac road and use the steep stairs on the right to visit The Reverie or the picnic lawn. Or walk all the way to the ticket office and the start of the Woodland Walk is just there.
2. TO THE PICNIC LAWN AND THE REVERIE
When you get to the sign leading to Boathouse Walk, if you keep walking straight, you will pass a bench on your left and woodland on your right and then come across a green lawn area on your left which is nice for picnics and offers some shade on a hot day. Just to the right of the Fisherman’s Hut you can find The Surrey Champion. The biggest (or fattest) recorded Field Maple in Surrey. Turn back on yourself and head down a fairly narrow trail through the woodland and you will pop out on the picnic lawn. Turn left through the pines and you will come out to an awesome elevated viewpoint, offering a view across the whole lake. Benches are here too. The picnic lawn provides shaded and sunny areas. At the opposite end to the one you entered from are the steps down to The Reverie.
Walking time so far (1 hour)
3. THE WOODLAND WALK (1KM)
Just beyond the sign to Boathouse Walk, off to your right you can see the trail into the Woodland. You pass the first Viking Camp on your right and can see Shag brook bubbling along. The second camp comes up on your left and then you follow the natural trail through the woodland. There’s a lovely mix of Scot’s Pines, Beech and Silver Birch Trees. There are tree descriptor boards dotted around the park, to tell you about the different trees which is a nice touch. In Spring there is a lovely display of bluebells and you can smell the wild garlic.
You pass back over a small bridge across the Shag Brook and pop out by the Ticket Office. Turn left to walk back towards the park to join another trail, visit The Reverie or head back to the carpark.
Walking time to now (1 hour 20 mins)
Another order to do things, taking in all the trails, is the Woodland Walk first, starting at the ticket office, which will bring you out onto the Lake Circuit walk. Walk clockwise around the lake, which brings you back to the playground/car park/El Rocinante. You can then walk past the lagoon slipway on your right and walk the Boathouse Walk in reverse. Past Finch, walk back up the slope and turn left to find the Fisherman’s Hut and trail through to the picnic lawn and down to The Reverie.
The owners have lots to plans for adding to the offering at the park and there are immediate plans for a children’s trim trail in the woods, along with a few rope and tyre swings and some electric off-roader vehicles for kids. I’m looking forward to seeing the park develop.
Don’t forget to pop into The Reverie when you visit. Best to book on a busy Summer’s day. They serve breakfast from 9-11.30am and lunch between midday and 3.30pm. On a Saturday and Sunday you can enjoy snacks and sundowners between 4-6pm and then evening dining 6-11pm. You can view their menus here.
To read more about what’s at the Buckland Park Lake please click here
Or if you are ready to book your visit, tickets can be purchased here