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Things to see and do at Frensham Little Pond

Visitor sat by the water at Frensham Little Pond, Surrey
Visitor sat by the water at Frensham Little Pond | © National Trust Images/Jo Hatcher

A haven for wildlife through every season, there’s plenty to see and do at Frensham Little Pond and common. Take up birdwatching, wander through fragrant woodland or simply enjoy the tranquil water and open views across prickly heathland. It’s a great place to unwind and take life at a slower pace.

Walking at Frensham Little Pond

Whether you have half an hour or a whole day to spare, Frensham Little Pond has a walk just for you. The heathland is mainly flat and dry, ideal for kids in buggies and wheelchair users. You can hike to the Great Pond and beyond or enjoy a refreshing stroll around our Little Pond (around 45 minutes).

Venture up to Snowball Ridge, which can be seen from the main car park, and admire the views across the sparkling pond. The views over the ever-changing heathland, with rusts and greens rolling into purple and mauves, is equally spectacular.

Birdwatching at Frensham Little Pond

Frensham Little Pond is the perfect location to take up birdwatching. The best spots are Snowball Ridge, the bird sanctuary on the south side of the pond or the viewing platform, complete with telescope, near Tern Café. Bring your binoculars, a comfy stool and a bird guide and look out for tree pipits, linnets and more.

A black moorhen with a red and yellow beak on a pond with some green pond weed
A moorhen on the water | © National Trust Images/Dougie Holden

Water birds

Elegant mute swans, grey herons and great crested grebes exude a serene authority compared to the noisy gulls, Canada and greylag geese. Moorhens and coots bob in and out of the reed beds and mallards will come and introduce themselves if you are by the café. More wary fowl such as the tufted duck and goosanders will stay in the middle of the lake. Look for the bright plumage of teals, Mandarin ducks and shovelers. Kingfishers can be spotted near the café area.

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Spring and summer birdwatching

Grab your binoculars and see how many species of birds you can spot at Frensham Little Pond. There are two bird hides – one by the café and one on the other side of the pond.

Spring and summer migrants

Use your binoculars or the telescope in the hide by the café to see if the terns have arrived. We have provided special rafts to encourage these birds to breed. Terns travel huge distances in their annual migration but often return to the same spot for breeding, so providing safe places for them is a good way to increase numbers.

Spring birdsong

Frensham Little Pond has some of the most extensive reed beds in Surrey. Listen out for the charming notes of sedge and reed warblers. At dusk, you may catch the unique booming sound of the secretive and rare bittern. Willow warblers, whitethroats, blackcaps, stonechats, redstarts and wheatears will all be making themselves heard.

Aerial displays

Look out for the aerial displays of the skylarks, woodlarks and pipits. Spot the bright colours of sisken, bullfinch and goldfinch in the hedgerows. Swifts and swallows will be criss-crossing the sky and the lakes scooping up insects to feed on.


The heath is also the breeding ground for the nocturnal nightjar. Camouflaged throughout the day, they emerge at dusk to breed and feed, with the males emitting their unique churring song. However, nesting at ground level means they are extremely exposed to disturbance. For this reason, we ask that you and any dogs keep out of the heather between March and September. 

Habitats to explore

Frensham Little Pond is an important site which supports a mosaic of habitats including dry and wet heath, ponds, reedbeds, alder carr and a range of transitional phases from open heath to secondary coniferous and deciduous woodland.

The Little Pond is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England for its rare heathland habitat, as well as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for its internationally important rare and vulnerable species of birds.


The sandy heathland has evolved over many years. Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, local people used to graze their animals here and come to cut bracken and wood, creating a virtually treeless landscape. Many unique plants and wildlife developed as a result of this process.

Man-made pond

The pond was created in medieval times to provide fresh fish and waterfowl for the Bishop of Winchester. It’s home to a variety of wildfowl and a wonderful array of aquatic life, including dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, newts, toads and frogs. The pond’s banks are fringed with yellow iris, purple loose-strife, reeds, rushes and sedges.

'Marginal fen' habitat

The flora around the pond is mainly common reed and could be referred to as a ‘marginal fen’ habitat. This habitat supports some rarer birds, such as reed and sedge warblers and water rail. Migratory birds such as bittern and osprey are known to visit here too.


Tall Scots pine trees thrive on the common. Some very old granny pines can be found to the north of the pond, which are believed to have been used as ornamental landscape trees when the area was owned by the Pierrepont Estate.

Along the northern boundary of the common, you’ll find a series of old and ancient oaks. The oldest would have been planted at least 500 years ago. Growing alongside it is a prickly evergreen shrub known as the ‘butcher’s broom’, named as such because butchers would use it to scrape down their chopping boards.

Wildlife to see at Frensham Little Pond

Keep an eye out for grass snakes, roe deer, colourful butterflies and more during your visit to Frensham Little Pond.

A young rabbit sitting in a grassy field with the sunshine highlighting its outline
A young rabbit | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman


On the common, look out for badgers, rabbits, roe deer and foxes. Bank voles and yellow-necked mice can be found too. Less welcome visitors include the mink, which preys on young birds. A recent outline survey of bats has revealed the possible presence of nine species at Frensham. This includes the nathusius' pipistrelle and Daubenton's, which are nationally scarce.

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Safety notice

Please don't swim at Frensham Little Pond. The pond is a designated SSSI as it has special wildlife habitats. The water quality isn't tested and there are no lifeguards to watch over people’s safety. Dogs are also not allowed to swim in the water or enter the beach areas.

Help us look after our wildlife

During the dry weather our heathland is at great risk from fire. Please leave your barbecues at home and take care if smoking. If you’re out on the heath from March to the end of September, please help protect our special ground-nesting birds by keeping your dog under close control and out of the heather.

More to enjoy

Activities for children

Children are welcome to bring their fishing nets and enjoy an hour or two pond dipping on the southern side of the pond. There are also sandy beaches along the pond, and the woodland makes for a great place to play hide and seek. If we’re lucky enough to have snow in the winter months, Snowball Ridge is a fantastic place for sledging.

Tern Café

When you’re out and about don’t forget to schedule in a break at Tern Café. Savour warming cups of tea and treat yourself to a light snack by the serene pond.

See the ancient dam

Look out for the ancient dam which was originally built in the 13th century to create a fishpond for the Bishop of Winchester. The dam was renovated in 2013 and ensures that the water stays in the pond for you and the wildlife to enjoy.

Visitor sat by the water at Frensham Little Pond, Surrey

Discover more at Frensham Little Pond

Find out how to get to Frensham Little Pond, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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