Craigavon Lakes Local Nature Reserve

Craigavon Lakes were created during the early 1970’s when an area of low lying, poorly drained land was excavated to create the two lakes which we see today. The South Lake was designed to act as a balancing lake, releasing rainwater collected from the built up areas of Craigavon at a controlled rate into streams which flow into Lough Neagh.

The Lakes were also intended to provide recreational opportunities for the population of the newly developed area of central Craigavon. During the late 1990’s over ten thousand trees were planted creating the new woodland around the lakes. In 2008 much of the site, including the North Lake, was designated as a Local Nature Reserve.Between the two lakes, on either side of the railway line, is an important area of species rich grassland.

This part of the Nature Reserve contains areas of wet meadow and dry grassland which can be seen close together, each providing a home for different types of plants and animals. Some of the more common plants which can be found here include Ox-eye Daisy, Common Spotted Orchid, Birds Foot Trefoil, Sweet Vernal Grass and Knapweed. A number of species of particular importance can also be seen here including Bee Orchids.

Bee Orchids

The land in this part of the Reserve has had large quantities of limestone waste deposited on it in the past creating conditions which are ideal for the growth of Bee Orchids. The colony of Bee Orchids at Craigavon Lakes is reputed to be the largest colony in Ireland with over 1000 plants having been recorded in the area.


The diverse range of plants which are present in this area attracts a variety of insects and butterflies. These include butterflies such as the Common Blue, Small Heath, Small Tortoiseshell and occasionally the Clouded Yellow. The large day flying Narrow Bordered Five-spot Burnet Moth with its dramatic colouration can frequently be seen. Bats, Foxes, and Rabbits can also be spotted.

One of the most important species of butterfly which can be found on the site is the Real’s Wood White butterfly, which has recently been identified as a separate species from the Wood White. The largest population of this butterfly in the UK can be found at Craigavon Lakes. It breeds in open habitats such as rough grassland, areas of light scrub, flower rich meadows, and road verges, all of which can be found within the Reserve. Plants such as Birds Foot Trefoil and Tufted Vetch act as food plants and sites on which the Real’s Wood White lays their eggs.


The rich habitat in the Nature Reserve also attracts a wide range of birds. Stonechats, Robins, Siskins, Willow Warblers, and Chaffinches are just a few of the birds which regularly nest and feed here. Mute Swans, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Golden Eye, Coots and many other wetland birds can often be seen on both of the Lakes. Cormorants roost among the trees on the islands.