Discover Fleet Pond Nature Reserve

June 17, 2016

Board 3 Station map

Click to enlarge

You can find more information on the different walks you can take around the Pond here.


An Emerging Sea of Blue

April 24, 2016

2016 Bluebells 3 s

David Pottinger writes:

Earlier in the week I decided to see how the bluebells were doing and to take a few ‘progress’ shots. They’re slowly coming out (above) and the general area is becoming a lush green (below). I’ve written about the volunteering that goes with the bluebells here, this article also explains the interesting differences between the native and Spanish varieties.

2016 Bluebells 2 s

If you take a standard walk around the pond you will not come across the bluebell patch. Instead keep a lookout for the large interesting tree in the picture below (in the region of the picnic area) and go up the incline. At the top you’ll soon come across a pleasing sea of blue!

2016 Bluebells 1 s

Walks, Butterflies and Flowers

April 21, 2016


The Butterfly for April, the Brimstone (see picture credit below)

David Pottinger writes:

With the arrival of the (slowly) improving weather, many readers will doubtless be taking walks round the Pond.

Whilst doing this, it’s interesting to try to identify any butterflies and wildflowers seen along the way. Fortunately, members of Fleet Pond Society (FPS) have written a fascinating series of articles on these topics that you might find interesting and helpful.

Peter Martin, who is the President of FPS, has written quite a few butterfly posts that have proven to be very popular. Here are two examples:

Butterflies Around The Pond – Have You Seen Any?


“Although over 30 different species of butterfly have been recorded at Fleet Pond, some may not be easily seen as they tend to stay in the areas in which they bred.

Westover Road – Speckled Wood: Where the path starts at the end of Westover Road towards Wood Lane there are patches of bramble which, when in flower, provide a good nectar source for the Speckled Wood. This is a butterfly that likes areas dappled with sun and shade and it is most noticeable when settled on bramble with its wings wide open. As it has several generations, it can be seen from March until September.”

Butterflies At The Pond – 2013

Extract (Butterfly Of The Month: April – The Brimstone; see picture at the top):

“The Brimstone butterfly is regarded as the “harbinger of spring”, as the male is so noticeable due to its “brimstone” colouring when it flies strongly after its winter hibernation. Females are a more whitish-green and are, therefore, often mistaken for Large White butterflies.”

In addition, Michelle Salter, who is the Secretary of FPS, has written a wonderfully illustrated series of articles on some of the wildflowers that can be seen around the Pond at different times of the year, see:

Keep An Eye Out For These Attractive Flowers

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold by Hemelite Bay

Here’s an extract (from the post April Wildflower Watch):

“Along the path from Boathouse Corner to Hemelite Bay, you will see the shiny, bright yellow petals of Marsh Marigold bringing bold splashes of colour to the edges of the pond. A member of the buttercup family, this ancient native plant, also known as Kingcups, May-bubbles, and Mollyblobs appears in early spring and is sometimes still in flower late into the summer months. Its sturdy, dark green, heart-shaped leaves offer shelter to frogs and other pond creatures.

Also making an appearance at Hemelite Bay, and on the banks of the smaller pond to the side, is the Cuckoo flower. Commonly known as Lady’s Smock, it has pretty, pink cupped or ‘frocked’ flowers. These pale blooms attract moths and early-flying butterflies such as the Orange-Tip, as well as bees and flies.


Forget-me-not on banks of Brookly Stream

Adding colour to the woods and along the banks of the Brookly Stream are masses of tiny Forget-me-nots. The five sky-blue petals of the Forget-me-not fuse at the base to form a very narrow tube and the five yellow scales form a ring at the entrance of this tube. The golden colour in the centre of the flower attracts pollinating insects and is a nectar source for early solitary bees.”

Picture credits:

Common brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) male in flight” by Charlesjsharp – own work, from Sharp Photography.

The wildflower photographs are courtesy of Michelle Salter.

Forty Years On: Circumnavigating the Pond

March 19, 2016

Cathy Holden writes:

Visitors to Fleet Pond regularly amble, power walk, jog or cycle the circular route skirting the perimeter of the water, probably without giving it a second thought. However, this circumnavigation was only made possible by the back-breaking work of a band of enthusiastic Society volunteers between 1976 and 1979, led by Society Chairman Terry Sims.

Current Society President, Peter Martin, documented the early work of the Society in his booklet ‘Fleet Pond Society 1976 – 2006: The First 30 Years’ (Martin, 2009) from which I have taken much of the information in this article.

A major challenge the team faced in completing the route was a lack of bridges.  Two would need to be installed; one across the Brookly Stream and the second at the point at which the large Pond flows through to the small one. Peter Martin relates how Hart District Councillor Peter Carr offered the services of his family firm to construct a bridge over the Brookly Stream, provided the Council ‘… would pay £200 for two lengths of steel’. (Martin, 2009) The firm would donate the cost of other materials and labour to the Society for free; a generous offer as the true cost of the bridge was £3,500. Ultimately £100 was raised through jumble sales held by the Society, and the Council donated the other £100, on top of the £1,500 they had already committed to works in the Reserve.

The bridge was constructed and delivered to the Kenilworth Road depot where volunteers painted it dark green. On 8th January 1977, with the concrete supports having been installed, a group of volunteers edged the bridge into position using brute strength, a trolley, and a block and tackle strategically placed in a tree. It remained in place until 2011 when the current wooden bridge was installed.

C77 Brookly Br9 - Photo 1 C77 Brookly Br11 - Photo 2

Work continued on the perimeter path, a hugely ambitious project for the group. Trees had to be removed by the industrial estate in order for the path work to begin. It was laid using broken breeze blocks and loose material. Peter commented that: ‘Laying the broken blocks was rather like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, with gaps then filled by the loose material’ (Martin, 2009).

C78 Nth footpath 1 - Photo 3

Work on the path reached the northern bank in the Spring of 1977 and railway sleepers were installed along the water’s edge. As the path progressed further along the bank the Council provided a pontoon onto which materials were loaded and then punted down to the work site. However, this could be a tricky manoeuvre as the weight of the load could cause the pontoon to list ‘…at almost forty-five degrees…’ (Martin, 2009) causing some volunteers to have an unexpected dip in the Pond!

C79 Carnival bld2 Photo 4 Photo 5

By 1979 the two halves of the perimeter path were joined by the installation of the second bridge. This spanned the channel along which water flowed into the small Pond. Again, it was the physical strength of the volunteers which impressed as they manhandled the two halves of the bridge so that they met. A ‘lucky volunteer’ then had to balance on the metal over the fast flowing deep channel to bolt the two sections together. Once that had been done, it was just a matter of laying the planks in position.

The bridge was named ‘Carnival Bridge’ as the Fleet Carnival Committee had donated £500 towards its cost. The bridge was opened by Kathleen Woodman whose husband Charles was a founder member and Vice-President of the Carnival Committee. This bridge was replaced in 2011, but the old bridge did not go to waste, it was renovated to create a new crossing at the Wood Lane entrance to the Reserve. The official opening was a very special occasion as the guests of honour were the family of Charles and Kathleen Woodman. This time it was their daughter, Beaulah Bower, who was thrilled to cut the ribbon.

C79 Carnival bld7b Photo 6 C1979 Carnival bridge install 1 - Photo 7 s

At the end of their hugely ambitious project, the volunteers of the 1970s received a letter of thanks from the Council ‘…for all their efforts in completing the perimeter access…’ (Martin, 2009). Today we too can offer a ‘thank you’ to these early Society volunteers who enabled us to enjoy a circumnavigation of the whole Pond.

C1979 path workers - Photo 8 s

Work on this circular walk never really stops. Another entry point was made possible by the addition of the bridge over The Flash alongside the railway station in 2011. Current volunteers and Countryside Rangers can regularly be seen maintaining the pathways; most recently on the eastern side of the Pond where a large section of the path was re-laid last year to make it more accessible to all visitors.

The photographs above are from the archive of the Fleet Pond Society.

Peter Martin’s book (mentioned above) is still available to buy from Fleet Pond Society. Please contact the current FPS Chairman, Colin Gray, for further information.

A Walk Around Fleet Pond – Hampshire Life

February 26, 2016

In the February 2016 issue of Hampshire Life magazine there’s a two page spread entitled ‘Things to do in Fleet“.

The article starts by recommending a stroll around Fleet Pond:

Take a walk around Fleet Pond (accessed from the station, Pondtail residential area and an alarmingly pot holed lane off Cove Road). This is the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire and is thought to have been created as a fishery as early as the 12th century. Certainly by the 15th century there are records of fish being delivered to the Bishopric of Winchester. Centuries later, following the building of the London to Southampton railway, a new station, Fleet Pond Halt, enabled Fleet Pond to become a popular spot for day trippers with picnicking and swimming in summer and ice skating in winter. Latterly Fleet Pond has become valued as a nature reserve. It was one of the first sites in Hampshire to be designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, back in 1951, and recognised as a Local Nature Reserve in 1977. Its 141 acres include heathland, woodland, reedbed and marsh, as well as the Pond itself, and it is home to various birds, butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers. Last year the Fleet Pond Society, working in partnership with Hart District Council, Natural England and the Environment Agency, achieved Green Flag status for the Pond, and this year the Society celebrates its 40th anniversary.

It then goes on to give recommendations under the categories: Take a Break, Explore, Lunch, Learn a New Skill and finally Eat & Sleep.


Dog Walkers On A Stroll Around The Pond

February 19, 2016

2016-02-05_dog walkers copy

Nice photo of a group of dog walkers and their various dogs enjoying a relaxed walk around the Pond. It’s one example of the many ways that visitors benefit from having Fleet Pond as a local nature reserve.

Sandhurst to Swallowfield Walk

February 7, 2016

Walk the Path 2016