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Discover Cornwall's Reservoirs

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"Have a look at the Reservoirs of Cornwall"

Cornwall has many Reservoirs or Lakes which not only gives us our valuable drinking water but offers a fun day out for the whole family with many activities and leisure pursuits available from sailing and fishing to bird watching and walking. Facilities and activities vary from reservoir to reservoir and below we will tell you all about each one and what they offer.

Volunteers are always needed either with scrub management, footpath construction, manning exhibitions at local shows and many more activities so if you have a bit of spare time why not have a go? There is a Volunteers Award Event which will recognize your achievement and also provide a social event for all involved.

So if you are looking for watersports activities, a spot of trout fishing, some bird watching, an overnight campsite, perhaps a picnic or just a relaxing walk in the countryside why not visit some of our Reservoirs here in Cornwall?

Opening times vary so check with each one before leaving home.

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East Cornwall

Siblyback Reservoir, Nr. Liskeard -

Siblyback is a beauty spot located high up on Bodmin Moor and is a man-made lake about 4 miles from Liskeard. The construction of the dam commenced in the late 1960’s due to the ever increasing demand on our drinking water. It was completed in 1969, consists of 140 acres, holds 700 million litres of water and has a lovely 3 mile circuit walk. Any overflow runs into the River Fowey at the head of Golitha Falls. Facilities include toilets, changing rooms, café, gift shop.

The Café overlooks the water and offers light lunches, meals, locally made cakes, hot & cold drinks and ice cream. Where possible locally sourced produce is used. In addition to the café you will find a well-stocked gift shop offering gifts, crafts and souveniers.

If you wish to spend the weekend at Siblyback there is a small campsite at the water’s edge.

There’s still more to do including a fantastic children’s play area and excellent bird watching. It is a valuable habitat for many species of birds and is complete with a bird-hide.

Now you can explore the lake on a Segway Personal Transporter which is a two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicle. Full training will be given.

So whether you visit on a hot summer’s day with a cool breeze, a day when the mist is down and the water is flat calm or perhaps during a blustery day in the Winter enjoy Siblyback and its moorland backdrop.

Colliford Lake, Nr. Bolventor -

Colliford Lake is the largest lake in Cornwall, covers more than 900 acres and holds 28,540 million litres of water. It is South of the A30 very close to Bolventor and Jamaica Inn made famous by Daphne du Maurier and renowed for its smuggling of yesteryear. It was constructed in 1982 and flooded in 1984. There is plenty of parking, picnic areas, 3 way-marked walks, nature trails and fly fishing.

Dozmary Pool outfalls into this Reservoir and Colliford’s own outfall forms one of the River Fowey tributaries.

The Cornish Trout Fishery offers low priced fly fishing from the bank and is known as Cornwall’s premier brown trout fishery. Day and season tickets are available and permits are available from The Jamaica Inn. It is also an important site for birdlife and wildfowl stay here over the winter period.

Colliford Tavern is a 4 star Inn offering B & B and a campsite – so relax and stay awhile.


North Cornwall

Upper and Lower Tamar Lakes, Bude -

The Tamar Lakes are located just inland from Bude and offer a relaxed atmosphere and a variety of sporting activities including watersports, cycling, angling and walking. The Lower Tamar Lake was constructed in 1819 to be used as the mains water supply for Bude but was considered unsafe and lowered to become a nature reserve. This resulted in the Upper Tamar Lake being opened in 1977 and is approximately 75 to 80 acres in extent and holds 1477 million litres of water.

The Lower Tamar Lake is much smaller than the Upper Tamar but has easy footpaths. It is very popular with many wildfowl and there is a bird hide, picnic tables, seasonal toilets and information area. Each lake has its own car park and walks which can be linked together to make them longer. They vary from ¾ of a mile to 2 ½ miles, are level with no stiles. The Bude Aqueduct walk starts and finishes at this lake.

The Lower Tamar Lake is a coarse fishery and has natural rainbow trout. Fishing is only from the bank using fly’s.

The Upper Tamar Lake has a watersports centre offering sailing, windsurfing and kayaking for the whole family. Tuition is available from qualified instructors and equipment can be hired such as pedalos, surf skies, canoes, rowing boats, windsurfers and dinghies. You can of course launch your own craft if you so wish. The Outdoor and Active Centre is open from April to September. (In September it is usually closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.)

The Upper Tamar Lake is also a coarse fishery containing carp, bream, tench, roach, rudd and eels. Day permits are available.

There is a campsite that is suitable for families or individuals. The café overlooks the lake offering lunches, tea and cakes and is open from Easter to October 7 days a week 11am to 4pm.

The Visitor Centre will give you all the information you will need about the lake, its ecology or the walks available. A round the lake walk will take about a 1 hour and there is also a children’s play area and plenty of other space for games.

Toilets are on site also.

Crowdy Reservoir, Nr. Camelford -

Crowdy Reservoir is situated in the North of Bodmin Moor within a site of Special Scientific Interest. It was constructed in 1973, covers 115 acres, supplies water to the North Cornwall water network and is fed by run-off and drainage from the moorland that surrounds it.

The banks of the reservoir are available for picnics, walking and fishing but no other activities takes place here because of the conservation value. There is a bird hide in the woods and access is gained either by the footpath from the dam car park or the path that runs along the edge of the woods but is rough under foot and not suitable for wheelchairs. It is an excellent place for numerous breeding and rare birds at all times of the year.

Crowdy is well stocked with Rainbow and Brown Trout and anyone with an Environment Agency Rod Licence may fish for free by spinning, fly or bait from mid March to October.

If you are looking for a quiet, relaxing time and a spot of fishing or bird watching this sounds like the place to be.

Porth Reservoir, Newquay -

Porth is a 40 acre Reservoir situated in a peaceful and picturesque location just outside Newquay and is a mature coarse fishery and designated bird sanctuary. It has a perimeter of approx. 3 miles and is fed by the river that rises to the East of Ruthvoes which is about 1 mile away.

Recent improvements have seen a nature trail, two new bird hides, renovation of the visitor centre and is open all year round. This coarse fishery have large stocks of skimmers, roach, perch, tench, bream, rudd, carp, pike and lots of silver fish which dominate. Permits are available from the visitor centre.

At Porth Reservoir public footpaths can be linked together to make a circular walk and the lake lies on the Sustrans National Cycle Route 32 and constitutes part of the Cornish Way Cycle Route.

Porth is open all year round for angling and can be booked for competitions.

Dogs are not permitted at this reservoir.

South Cornwall

Argal & College Reservoirs, Nr. Penryn, Falmouth. -

Argal and College Reservoirs are adjacent to each other and situated just 2 miles from the centre of Falmouth.

Argal is the larger of the two being 65 acres, the South-West section marked by white buoys in the water, is designated as a nature reserve. It is known for its wildlife and beautiful walks. A circular walk of about 2 miles passes through woods and meadows and takes approx 1.5 hours at a slow pace. It is a well stocked coarse fishery with carp, pike, bream, roach, rudd, eel, perch and tench. Fly fishing only for rainbow trout. Permits are available from the self-service unit at Argal Reservoir car park. Several picnic and barbeque areas are available so for a peaceful family day with a children’s play area and plenty of other space, it is well worth a visit.

College (adjacent to Argal) is the smaller reservoir being 35 acres but has deciduous woodland surrounded by farmland. This like Argal has a circular walk and is a nature reserve. Kingfishers can be seen all year round and many different species of birds are found on this one compared to the adjacent Argal. Coarse fishing only allowed here.

Volunteers are always welcome to help with the conservation programme.

Well behaved dogs welcome on leads but are not allowed in the play area.

West Cornwall

Drift Reservoir, Nr. Penzance -

Drift is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty in a peaceful valley north of Drift Village and 2 miles South West of Penzance. This reservoir was completed in 1960 and is the principal source of water for the area of Penwith and is Britain’s most South Westerly Reservoir. Drift is 65 acres of a clear water trout fishery.

Wild brown trout and stocked rainbow trout can be fished here (fly only). Artic Char were introduced some time ago and day permits are available from the warden by the car park. The BFTA Cornish Open Float Tube Competition is held here each May.

Drift is regarded as one of the top local birdwatching places and boasts a long list of rare species, around 230 have been recorded here. The Cornwall Birdwatching & Preservation Society maintains a hide at the north western corner. To reach the hide, follow the footpath on the west bank from the car park and from there it is about half a mile. It is excellent for gulls, wintering wildfowl and for passage waders when the water levels are suitable.

Stithians Reservoir, Nr. Redruth -

Stithians Reservoir is situated on high ground roughly between Truro, Falmouth and Redruth about halfway between the North and South Coasts of Cornwall. It was constructed in 1967 and opened by Sir John Crew Pole and blessed by the Bishop of Truro. Stithians Reservoir is approximately 350 acres and holds 4.9 million litres of water which is pumped from the river further down the hill but some comes from natural sources such as local streams and rainfall.

It is probably the best area of open water for bird watching in Cornwall especially in Winter and during passage times, there are hides at both ends. Large flocks of Teal and Wigeon can often be seen feeding amongst its marshy edges. In April 2009 the second ever sighting of a Golden Eagle was seen, the first time in Cornwall was over 200 years ago. With 5.5 miles of banks it is a peaceful haven for bird watchers and walkers alike.

There is a RYA centre here with sailing, windsurfing, rowing and canoeing available. Equipment can be hired such as windsurfers, dinghies, kayaks and paddle boards. Tuition is available and RYA sailing and windsurfing 2 day courses.

Day permits are available from the Activity Centre for fly fishing the brown and stocked rainbow trout.

In addition to all this there is a childrens play area, a trim trail for fitness and a cycle way to the dam. Archery and climbing can also be enjoyed. Why not just relax in the Cafe Nova which is based in the watersports centre and provides homemade cakes, paninis, pasties and good quality Italian style coffee. Fantastic views can be seen from here of the lake.

If you wish to spend a weekend here there is a campsite near the Activity Centre. Electric-hook ups and washing up facilities are available.


The Golden Lion Inn and Lakeside Restaurant boasts a fabulous setting where you can dine in the light and spacious restaurant with views of Stithians Lake and award-winning gardens or in the traditional oak beamed bar area with real log fires, quality food, full table service and in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere.