Eco Visitor Centre for Essex Wildlife Trust

The stunning new visitor centre is run by EWT and hosts dramatic views over the reservoir, which is of international importance to wildlife, especially wildfowl. The new visitor centre is a Penta-decagon – 15-sided – with approximately one third of its wall area made from large glass panes. There are many sustainable features such as super insulation, triple glazing, passive solar gain, air source heat pump exchanger, solar hot water heating, low flush toilets connected to an onsite biological sewage treatment, & a log burner for space heating.

EWT offer a wide range of environmental & educational activities for children and adults alike; children’s activities take place every day of school holidays and there are various clubs during term time including Creepy Crawlies Club for under 5s. Adult events include star gazing, birding courses, music events and craft courses.

The building is all on one level, allowing easy access, especially for less able visitors. The shop offers visitors a range of products, including binoculars and telescopes, books, bird food and feeders, gifts and cards. A newly open tea room hosts homemade and locally sourced products including bacon rolls, quiche, soups, panins, jacket potatoes, cakes, snacks and ice creams.

Abberton Reservoir is an extremely important site for breeding birds and is a stopover for thousands of birds on migration. It has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a RAMSAR site (Wetland of International Importance). Essex & Suffolk Water own and operate the reservoir to help supply its 1.5 million customers in Essex with drinking water. The nature reserve and the visitor centre are managed by Essex Wildlife Trust in partnership with the water company.

eco centre
ecological heating system
nature reserve visitor centre

At the visitor centre:

  • Middleditch Wild Play Area
  • Viewing area
  • Gift shop
  • Birthday parties
  • Light snacks and drinks
  • Hot food
  • Toilets including disabled and baby changing
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Children’s activities
  • Optics sales

The centre offer many events and activities for both children and adults throughout the year; from guided walks and courses, to school holiday activity days and under-five’s clubs. Schools and other groups are all welcome.

The Abberton Scheme involved increasing the storage capacity of Abberton Reservoir by 58%. This was achieved by raising the top water level in the main part of the Reservoir by 3.2 metres. This raising, together with various habitat creation, removal of most of the concrete edge and management measures that form part of the Scheme, have been designed to increase the value of the reservoir for birds and other wildlife ensuring that its designations stay in place.

eco centre terrace
eco visitor centre