… to the Moat Barn National Nature Reserve

GU8 6NW

Along what locals call the ‘Elstead straight’ towards Thursley in southwest Surrey lies the carpark to this network of ponds and natural wetlands, a former army training ground traversed by more than a kilometre of easy boardwalk. It’s a haven for bird and insect life; our visit on a warm May day caught the dragonfly breeding season and, to the delight of local twitchers, a quartet of rare raptors – hobbys – had taken up residence. We saw lizards and marsh orchids, and our dog made a small boy drop a frog (not a euphemism).

20170528_130525Part of the trail is dedicated to the 20 species of dragonfly that frequent the wetland and one viewing platform features an etched panel describing their life-cycle.

The walk is plenty wide enough for a wheelchair and there are passing places along the way, as it rather elegantly wraps around individual trees and winds through minor thickets. We have yet to venture out on a spur that takes you to a mysteriously-wooded area. On a couple of platforms the ecology of the area is described on touch-panels for the visually impaired.

It makes for a fascinating visit. If you take the Thursley turn-off the A3, before the tunnel, you will pass the Three Horseshoes, a village-owned pub with good beer and  stockbroker belt food.

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