Walk - Legacy Trail 4 - Around Radipole Lake
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
Follow the Wild Weymouth discovery trail and get touching, smelling, seeing and hearing wildlife up close.
Radipole Lake is one of the RSPB’s most urban reserves and is a quiet ‘natural’ oasis right in the heart of Weymouth. Over time it has been invaded by the Romans, harvested for thatch, had its own swan herder, been the site of a funfair and had a miniature railway! Protected by the local council in the 1930’s, it has been managed by the RSPB since 1976.
It is a great place to get up close to wildlife. The Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre has plenty for families to do: pond dipping, nature trails, competitions and events – and you can eat your own sarnies or get some food at the same time!
Start off in the Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre to
- Check what wildlife is around today
- See videos of wildlife taken at the reserve
- Look at the nestcams, (in nesting season only!).
- Join in with the daily free activities.
- Pick up activity booklets for children
- Refresh yourself before setting off!
- Pick up some duck food (bread isn’t as good for ducks as grain).
- Find out where else to visit locally.
- From the Discovery Centre turn left, go over to the duck feeding platform
…..and feed the ducks and swans. Southern railway used to promote trips to Weymouth as a place to feed the swans, thousands of people still do. See if you can identify 5 different birds on the water (don’t worry, there are some signs to help you).
When you think the ducks are full, go on to the reserve.
As you walk up the path check out the view. The shopping and more overlook Radipole Lake, yet the reeds and water is still heaving with wildlife. By the time you reach the first platform, on your right, you should’ve seen plenty of small birds darting in and out of the reeds and bushes. Listen out for the explosive sound of Cetti’s warbler in spring and the pinging call if bearded tits.
Go up on the first platform and have a look over the reedbed.
It can be difficult to get a sense of scale, walking through a flat landscape. Look up the reserve (the opposite way to where you have come from). Radipole Lake extends all the way to the blocks of flats to the north! You may see some fish in the ditches below, what animals might eat them?
- From the first platform carry on up the path and take the right hand fork.
Look out for a path on your right to get a view over the body of water on the eastern edge of the reserve – check for great crested grebes. Further along on the left you’ll be able to take a small detour into the reeds on a boardwalk.
Turn left off the boardwalk and walk up to the next platform.
Take a break. Eat some food, have a drink, relax listening to birdsong, work out what each seat is representing – whatever you do here make sure you give the otter’s nose a rub before you leave.
From the seating area turn right and walk along to the viewing shelter.
There’s a great view over the water and into the reeds. Otters and kingfishers have all been seen here. Along the path between the viewing shelter and the next platform, look for otter spraint.(poo) ... its smells of jasmine (honest) and is usually full of fish scales. There is usually a fresh supply in the Discovery Centre if you can’t find any!
- From the double platform carry along the path and turn left, and follow this path all the way back to the Discovery Centre.
Before you go make sure you:
- Go pond dipping and discover what creatures lurk in the deep – from March to October (roughly!).
- Tell a member of staff or volunteer what you have seen.
- Check what else is happening around Weymouth and Portland, and get some suggestions of where to explore next.
Refreshments at the Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre.