Wilstone Reservoir Review and Walk

There seems to be a bit of a water theme at the moment! Sorry. Today’s review of is Wilstone Reservoir near Marsworth / Tring in Hertfordshire. Wilstone Reservoir is actually the biggest of four, which are collectively known as the Tring Reservoirs. The path that we took was fully signposted as a public footpath, with signs for the areas where it became private property. You are walking on the edge of farmer’s fields though so please respect their property and crops.

Wilstone Reservoir Walk

Wilstone Reservoir Review, Tring / Marsworth, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids

The walk that we did around Wilstone Reservoir was 2.3 miles but it’s all on flat ground. Just under half of this is right next to the reservoir wall. This has a steep grass slope on one side, and a drop into the water on the other. The footpath is probably only about 2.5 / 3 meters wide. I’ll be honest I was incredibly nervous walking Smallest Child along the top of the reservoir. She refuses to wear any kind of reins and loves to run along. I had her on my shoulders for as much of this section as she would let me get away with. I don’t want this to detract from what was a lovely walk. If, however, you have wilful toddlers like me you might want to give it a miss for a while.

The Tring reservoirs are apparently some of the best places in the UK to see water birds. Whilst we were there we saw; Barnacle Geese, Canada Geese (and goslings), Common Turn, Greater Crested Grebe, Mallards (and ducklings), Moorhens, Coots and a Woodpecker. Those were just the ones I could recognise on sight without any binoculars. We also saw lots of Dragonflies & Damselflies, Ladybirds and an entire swarm of Bees!! Not a bad haul at all.

Our route

From the car park go up the steps onto the reservoir wall. The steps are steep but this is the only slope you’ll have to deal with on the walk. You couldn’t get a pushchair up there though.

Turn left and follow the path around the edge of the reservoir. Once you reach the end of Wilstone Reservoir, continue to walk slightly to the left through a wooded area. It’s a well used and clear path. When you come to a t-junction follow the signed path to the right, again through a woodland area, with fields on your left. This is field one. As you come to the end of field one you’ll take a bit of a dog-leg detour to your left which takes you along the edge of field two.

Wilstone Reservoir Review, Tring / Marsworth, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids

At the end of this field, at the tree, there’s another dog leg to the left. This takes you along the edge of field three. The footpath takes a sharp right and then a sharp left following the edge of the field. Keep going until the see the sign saying “No footpath, private property”. Turn sharp right along the edge of field four. Keep going straight.As you come to the corner there’s some (slightly obscured and almost disappeared) steps right in front of you. Go down these.

Walk across the field, following the trodden path with the trees on your right until you come to a wooded area. Shortly,you’ll see a sign on your right for the bird hide if you want to have a look. If not, continue to the left, parallel to the edge of the reservoir. This is along a narrow track where social distancing isn’t possible, but there are passing places along the way. Follow the path to the end, turning right back onto the side of reservoir bank and continue until you get back to the steps.

This walk around Wilstone Reservoir is approx 2.3 miles. It took us 90 minutes to complete (including a running toddler). Adults alone could probably do it in 60 minutes, but we were enjoying the view and didn’t want to rush.

Social distancing information

Once you are away from the reservoir itself there are significantly less people and so social distancing becomes much easier. We went on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend and it was very busy. We actually took the last space in the tiny car park. A couple of other cars arrived whilst we were getting out. I believe that most of the time it is actually very quiet. The footpath around the edge of Wilstone Reservoir itself isn’t particularly wide. You can maintain social distance, but one of you has to walk right on the edge of the reservoir and the other on the edge of the steep slope!

Wilstone Reservoir Review, Tring / Marsworth, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids

There are a couple of other social distancing pinch points. The main one is the the narrow path between the bird hide and the open reservoir path that I’ve mentioned above. This path is only about 1m wide. I anyone is coming towards you you have to stand in the passing places.

Our Wilstone Reservoir Walk Review

I have a confession, we didn’t intend to do a walk as long as this! We used to come here with my parents as a kid but I had totally forgotten how long it is. There are other walks you can do starting from Wilstone Reservoir, but we ended up taking this one kind of by accident. It was a very hot day, it was a long walk and the kids were knackered by the end of it. That said, it was beautiful, and so peaceful! I’m really glad that we moved away from the side of the reservoir as Smallest Child was making me constantly on edge. She hadn’t actually gone anywhere near the water, but I always wanted someone between her and the precipice.

We will absolutely go again, and it will be interesting to see how it changes throughout the seasons. I’ll just be waiting until Smallest Child learns to listen a little bit better!

Find out more about the Tring Reservoirs by visiting the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust website. Other nearby places to visit include College Lake, Tring Natural History Museum, Tring Park and the Ashridge Estate.

Admission Cost

Entry is Free

Parking / How to get there

Carpark – There is a very small, free car park on site. If this is full please don’t park on the grass verge outside as it’s on a corner.

Address – Lower Icknield Way, Tring HP23 4PA.


None on site.


You probably won’t need to take a picnic, but you could have one sitting on the edge of the reservoir.

Wilstone Reservoir Review, Tring / Marsworth, Hertfordshire | Free Time with the Kids

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Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch contact@freetimewiththekids.com or get in touch via Facebook

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