Frensham Little Pond family trail
The 55 hectares of Frensham Little Pond provide a haven for birds and wildlife. This walk offers a treasure trove of delights from the views over the tranquil lake, to the vigorous climb up to Snowball Ridge, and the promise of warming sustenance at the Tern Café. The sandy soil makes for dry-ish paths so you can enjoy a stroll here at any time of year.
Car park in Priory Lane Grid ref SU857418
Leave the car park along a flat path signposted to the cafe through the Scotts Pine trees. Unless you want a drink before you start, walk behind the café keeping to the flattish land, walking through deciduous trees and round the edge of the lake. You will get your first glimpse of the pond.
Follow the path as it bends round to the right and comes close to the water and you will see the medieval dam. The pond has changed very little since it was created. Continue following the path as it bends to the right along the lakeshore.
Learn why the pond was created
The lake was ordered to be created in 1296 by William de Raleigh, who was Bishop of Winchester in the time of King Henry III. It was created by damning a small river to enlarge an existing mere. William wanted fresh fish for himself and his guests when he stayed at nearby Farnham Castle.
As you follow the path around the lake, you will notice that there are trees, shrubs and reeds by the water. Frensham Little Pond is a haven for breeding water birds and so we have created a buffer zone for them to protect them and their young. If you look carefully into the lake, you will see the nesting rafts we have built for visiting terns.
Learn about the tern rafts
The tern rafts were installed in 2013 to encourage visiting terns to breed in a safe platform away from predators such as mink. If you are lucky you may see common terns on the lake. They are like streamlined gulls with a delightful balletic and acrobatic flying style. Watching them dive for fish is something special!
The path follows the edge of the woodland alongside a boundary fence. At this point it is skirting a small wetland area which is a sanctuary for water and woodland birds. After 100 yards the path turns sharply right through the woodland and crosses a broadwalk over the marshy ground. Look out for woodland birds such as jays, tits and larks. Among the reeds you may be able to spot or hear sedge warblers and reed warblers. You will come out at the edge of the woodland.
As you come out of the wood take the path to the right keeping the trees on your right hand side as you walk back towards the lake. It was drained during the Second World War to avoid being a navigable landmark for German bombers attacking Aldershot. It was then used for tank training before being refilled in 1949. By the water you will spot a couple of places that have been fenced off for dogs to splash about without disturbing the waterfowl.
The path you are on comes to a junction with a broader path running left to right. Follow this path and you will begin to climb up to the ridge. To your left is a large area of heathland which in summer is ablaze with purple heather and humming with bees and butterflies. It is also a haven for the rare ground-nesting nightjar. There is a super view up to the ridge of Frensham Common. On your right the trees change from deciduous broadleaf trees to Scotts Pine and conifers.
At the top of the ridge you will come to a cross roads in the trees. Take the path to the right. This is Snowball Ridge, and is a lovely walk through the trees along the ridge. Listen out for the birds, such as firecrest, woodpeckers and nuthatch. There are some benches up here so you can enjoy the great views before beginning your descent back down to the lake.
As you come down the hill you will see the welcoming café. Congratulations! You have successfully circumnavigated Frensham Little Pond and here's an opportunity to reward yourselves with a refreshing cuppa and a piece of cake or a light lunch. There's also a bird hide here where you can watch the activity on the water and see how many different species you spot.
Car park in Priory Lane Grid ref SU857418
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