Astley Lake


Wildlife refuge and lake in Swillington.


Astley Lake is a peaceful place that is perfect to take a walk or watch the wildlife, including some of the best known bird watching in the area.

Location Details

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Things to Note

Astley Lake has the following on-site or nearby:

  • Accessible Toilets
  • Disabled Access
  • Nearby Food & Drink
  • Pushchair Access
  • Rubbish Bins
  • Wheelchair Access


Astley Lake is situated nearby to the villages Woodlesford and Swillington that sit on the banks of the Aire and Calder Navigation river system.

Things to Do


Any keen birdwatcher will enjoy a trip to Astley Lake because of the wonderful range of birds that are regularly spotted. Expect to see Bitterns, Black-necked Grebe, Little Owls, Kestrels, Black-headed Gull and Lapwings. For a more discreet view use one of the bird hides dotted around the lake.


The broader area surrounding Astley Lake takes in all of RSPB St Aidan’s, a nature reserve that has extensive marked trails that are great for walking.

One example is the 5.5-km circular trail around the RSPB site. At an average pace this route will take just over an hour to complete. And the circular walk will take in plenty of the nature in the area.


The green spaces in-between both the River Aire and Astley Lake are both on and off the beaten track of walkers. Whether you want to find somewhere quiet or amongst the public there will be plenty of spots to have a picnic around Astley Lake.

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Astley Lake makes up one part of the RSPB St Aidan’s nature reserve. This site of ecological significance was originally an open cast mine until 2002.

It is now a sanctuary for rare and endangered wildlife that is enjoyed by visitors from all over Yorkshire.


The nearest public toilet is a 20-minute walk to St Aidan’s visitor centre. Here you can access both a unisex and disability toilet; there are also baby changing facilities.

Around the RSPB site there are six level resting areas and relatively new benches dotted about.

Dog and rubbish waste bins can be found marked walking trails.

Food and Drink

Close by to Astley Lake is the on-site St Aidan’s Little Owl Café which has a range of hot or cold drinks and snacks.

Alternatively, there are lots of sit down or takeaway food options a short drive away on the A642 in Oulton.


Parking for Astley Lake can be accessed  via the free parking at Fleet Lane, Oulton or the paid public car park at RSPB St Aidan’s, LS26 8AL. The latter is open between 6am – 8pm.


One pathway, adjoined to the western side of St Aidan’s skirts around the southern end of the lake is accessible to wheelchair and pushchair users. The rest of the lake is only accessible by foot on uneven trails.

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