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Sunrise over Fleet Pond

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Fleet Pond is a Local Nature Reserve 48-hectare (119 acres) and designated Site of Special Scientific Interest in Fleet, Hampshire.[1][2] It is a large, shallow lake, something of a rarity in south-central England, supporting a rich variety of acquatic flora, and is in the ownership of Hart District Council.[3] Habitats include wet and dry heath, wet and dry woodland, open water, reedbeds and marsh.[1]

Fleet is an Old English word that refers to where a stream enters or leaves a larger body of water, and it is likely that the two original ponds were constructed by damning an existing watercourse which were then stocked with fish to provide a source of food. The “great fishery [of] Fleet Ponds” is referred to in the Rolls of Account of Crondall Manor in 1324, but many such ponds were created in the latter half of the 12th century.[4]

The location of the second pond, now disappeared, is the subject of some speculation. A document dated 1567 records that it was destroyed by a “great storm”.[4]


In 1836 the London and Southampton Railway bought the pond for £50, equivalent to about £6,000 as at 2023,[a]Calculated using the retail price index.[5] as it stood in the way of their proposed line, and built an embankment across the northern end. But they appreciated the site’s potential as a tourist destination, and so opened Fleet Pond Halt as a destination for day trippers. Much of the surrounding area became a military training ground in 1854, and during the Second World War the pond was drained to make the area less visible to enemy aircraft. It was refilled and planted with reeds in 1947.[4]

Flora and fauna

The pond is flanked by extensive reed Phragmites beds, alder Alnus carr, and acid woodland dominated by oak Quercus and birch Betula.[3]

Among the 180 species of birds that have been observed at the site are reed warbler, kingfisher, cormorant, common tern, heron and great crested grebe, along with 26 species of butterflies, 21 of dragonflies and 400 wild flowers including marsh marigold, meadowsweet, water mint, water forget me not, purple and yellow loosestrife, marsh cinquefoil, marsh lousewort and rushes and sedges.[1]

Grass snakes and adders have been found in the drier areas, as well as mammals including pipistrelle and Daubenton’s bats, shrews and roe deer.[1]


a Calculated using the retail price index.[5]