Walk Distance: 3.7 km
Walk Duration: 1 hr at preschooler pace. Leave longer for younger walkers, for a detour to the bird hide and for exploration!
Suitable for: pushchairs (Grebe trail) and baby carriers (Grebe and Bittern trails)
Walk features: Beautiful lakeside views, fish & chips restaurant, picnic area, and toilet facilities, bird hides and wildfowl spotting opportunities.
Chew Valley Lake is a reservoir in the heart of the lush Chew Valley, 12 miles south of Bristol by road, making it a perfect escape from the city for a scenic countryside walk with baby on good paths.Part of Bristol Water, Chew Valley Lake is also an establish wildlife haven and visited by many different species of wildfowl such as the Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck and Canada Geese.
Two short nature walks – the Grebe and Bittern trails, have been created at Chew Valley Lake to allow the visitors to enjoy the scenery and watch for visiting wildfowl. Both trails are well marked and the Grebe trail in particular is well surfaced for walking with pushchairs, offering easy strolling on flat paths for those seeking a breath of fresh air with baby or small children. The Bittern trail, accessible from the Grebe trail, is better suited to baby carriers and young wildlife enthusiasts as is on rougher paths and takes in a bird hide on the quiet circular walk. Dogs are allowed on the Grebe trail but must be kept on a lead to avoid disturbing the wildfowl.
There are two visitor car parks and picnic areas at Chew Valley Lake, both accessible from Wally Lane between the villages of Chew Stoke and Bishop Sutton. This walk starts from the first car park area closest to Chew Stoke (where the excellent Salt & Malt fish and chips restaurant is located) and covers the lake walk to the second picnic area, the Grebe and the Bittern nature trails but it is possible to start your walk from either car park and cover as much or as little of the trails with baby as you would like.
From Car Park 1 take the path near the car park entrance (opposite end to the car park) and follow the well made path along the edge of Chew Valley Lake and reed beds. There are some benches along this part of the walk and plenty of opportunities to take in the views of the lake, Denny Island and beyond to the Mendip Hills.
The path continues into the second car park where there are plenty of picnic benches. Walk through the picnic area and join the Grebe trail at the east end of the parking area. Take the lakeside path and walk along past the reed beds. From here you can clearly see Denny Island – a wildlife reserve and breeding site for wildfowl and there are continued good views of Chew Valley Lake. Walk
onwards past the pond on your left to the wooden bridge and start of the woods and the Bittern Trail. If walking with baby in a pushchair or with a dog, continue past the bridge on the Grebe trail. If you have a baby carrier, good shoes or are accompanied by a small wildlife enthusiast (!) and want to continue on the 1.5 km Bittern Trail loop or visit the bird hide, cross over the wooden bridge and turn right taking the footpath along the edge of the woods, keeping an eye out for the Kingfishers that can often be spotted here.
Follow the path to the edge of the woods and through a parking area, before picking up the path on the other side and passing by meadow and through the woodland. On your right hand side you will pass the path to the bird hide where wildlife enthusiasts can go and watch for birds and wildfowl. Continuing past this path you will join a section of board-walk.
When you reach the end of the board-walk you should turn left to follow the grassy path back along the edge of the woods, keeping the hedge on your right. This will return you to the start of the Bittern Trail and views out over Chew Valley Lake at the wooden bridge. Cross back over the bridge and turn right.
Follow the trail back along the hedge and through the woods until you return to the second parking area. From here retrace your steps to the first parking area where you can enjoy a picnic or refreshments from Salt & Malt.
In depth guides to both the Grebe and Bittern trails at Chew Valley Lake, including maps and the wildlife to be spotted along the way have been produced by Bristol Water and are available from their website.
Map of Route: