Things To Do

Hattie Lloyd 03/03/24

London Wetland Centre

On some days of the year, the whole of London can feel like a wetland.

But there’s a patch in Barnes that’s particularly wetland-like. It’s a dedicated nature reserve run by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, set over 100 acres of reclaimed Victorian reservoirs nestled into a big loop of the Thames.

London Wetlands

Sam Stafford

The London Wetland Centre marked the country’s first stab at rewilding cities when it opened back in 2000, and since then it’s had an enormous impact on London’s wildlife: there are dozens of species of birds who have made their home here that you won’t see anywhere else in the city.

So pull on your wellies and your least favourite clothes, and go for a windswept romp across 40 hectares of grassland, marshes and kaleidoscopic wildflower meadows; watch otters frolicking under waterfalls; and breathe in the fresh air that’ll almost convince you that you’re standing outside the M25. Friendly guides dotted around the reserve will be able to point out the various birds splashing about, from kingfishers and kestrels to noisy white-faced whistling ducks (though they’re pretty easy to identify, for obvious reasons).

London wetland centre

If you’re coming here with kids, it’s a golden opportunity to give them free rein to go wild in the, er, wilderness. There are walking routes where you’ll need to tightrope walk along balance beams and jump over obstacles. There are adventure playgrounds filled with zip wires and rope bridges. There’s an interactive discovery centre that brings nature’s miracles to life. And if they really want to get closer to nature? There’s pond-dipping activities and a mud kitchen where they can get gloriously mucky from head to toe.

There are trails and maps available at the centre before you set off to explore. And at Christmas time, the wetlands are transformed with an after-hours light trail featuring illuminations and sparkling sculptures inspired by the centre’s fluffy and feathered inhabitants.


NOTE: The London Wetland Centre is open every day except Christmas – you can find out more and plan your visit here.

London Wetland Centre | Queen Elizabeth Walk, London SW13 9WT

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London Wetland Centre

Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes, SW13 9WT

020 8409 4400