The story behind Wraysbury 2
Like its neighbour W1-Nature Reserve, Wraysbury 2 (W2) has a long history stretching back to early Neolithic times. As well as remains of woolly mammoth, archaeologists have discovered Stone Age flint tools in the locality dating from around 2,500 BC. Today, the lake attracts hunters of a different kind: specialist anglers seeking an exciting and testing challenge.
Sitting just south of W1-Wraysbury Nature Reserve, W2 shares the same long history of its sister. As well as evidence of woolly mammoth and Stone Age peoples, the area has turned up relics of Roman-British settlements dating from the 2nd century AD, together with Saxon tools, coins and pottery from around the 8th century BC.
Wraysbury was also mentioned in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, where it was described as ‘Wirecesberie’ and having 57 inhabitants and land for 25 ploughs. ‘Wirecesberie’ later changed to ‘Wyrardisbury’ – just one of the 30 or more variations of the name that surfaced before ‘Wraysbury’ became the accepted modern moniker.
The area around W2 is notable for other reasons. Some historians believe that the parish of Wraysbury was the real location of Magna Carta island – the site of King John’s signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 – as opposed to the ‘meadows of Runnymede’.
The area is also home to the legendary Ankerwycke Yew, a massive yew tree believed to be around 1,000 to 3,000 years old. Rumour has it that King Henry VIII would meet Anne Boleyn for romantic assignations under its boughs.
The Origins of W2
By the 20th century, Wraysbury had turned into a thriving village, its prosperity fuelled by the arrival of the railway in 1848 and a steep rise in population. During the 1920s and 1930s, the area started to attract extraction companies, who arrived to mine the huge sand and gravel deposits that characterised the region. Wraysbury’s previously principal source of income, agriculture, waned as the extractors moved in, digging huge open cast pits to retrieve the valuable minerals.
As the sand and gravel was removed, the remaining pits were left to fill with water, attracting new plant life and, in turn, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. By the 1930s, this process was already forming the lake at W1-Wraysbury Nature Reserve, which was already 50 acres in size. Wraysbury 2 took longer, probably only beginning to form during the 1950s.
Today, like its W1 counterpart, Wraysbury 2 is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and offers waters that stretch for 140 acres: 20 acres more than its better-known neighbour. Its size and relative under-utilisation – at least compared with W1 – present anglers with a genuine challenge.
Along with its crystal-clear waters, the lake offers up everything a serious angler could want – leafy bays, wooded islands, shallow bars, large weedy expanses and snag-ridden corners, all offering up plenty of enticing obstacles and opportunities.
And on top of its interesting topology, W2 offers plenty of that anglers’ favourite – untold potential. A significant head of carp, believed to number around 75, live in its water, with about 30 of these believed to tip 30lb and mirrors and commons weighing over 40lb. Other targets include tench and bream – anglers talk about shoals of bronze bream – with some believed to come in at well over double figures. Add pike weighing 30lb+, large eel at over 5lb, big perch at over 2lbs and significant quantities of Rudd and Roach and the water promises impressive rewards.
A World of Wildlife
Just as appealing is its air of seclusion. Relatively under-used by anglers, the atmosphere around W2 is one of wonderful tranquillity despite the proximity of the M25 and Heathrow. The wildlife is something special here, too. As at W1, the lake and its margins are havens for a host of indigenous and migrant birdlife and animals. The waters offer sustenance and shelter to everything from cormorants and migrant gulls to heron, warblers and SSSI-noted Goosander and Gadwell ducks. A lone otter also appears on the lake from time to time, feeding here before disappearing and returning again. Other wildlife concentrates around the shores, with toads, frogs, newts, diving beetles, pond skaters and water scorpions all making an appearance, amongst a multitude of other insects, amphibians and reptiles.
Away from the water, the meadows, shrubberies and woodlands provide another playground for birds and mammals. Warblers, Wrens, Dunnocks and Goldcrest feast on the insect life and diverse flora, while woodpecker, buzzards, owls and roe and Chinese deer are just a few of the regular visitors to the shaded copses of oak, ash, elm and sycamore.
The result is a paradise for specimen anglers, all served up in a peaceful venue that seems a million miles from the modern world.