Things that people tend to associate with Walthamstow:
- Pie & mash shops
- That one dog track
Things that people do not tend to associate with Walthamstow:
- Vast, lush beautiful urban wetlands teeming with life
Well, happily, all of those perceptions are due for a change. Because now Walthamstow is the proud owner of Europe’s biggest urban wetlands, just a few miles north of the Olympic Park, which it actually overlooks (alongside Canary Wharf and Hackney).
It sounds strange to read, but it’s true. Clocking in at a hefty 520 acres, the area boasts 10 reservoirs, eight islands, London’s largest heronry, and a dozen miles of footpaths & cycle tracks connecting it all. And it’s all completely free to enter.
Walk inside the main gate, and you’ll be able to see a Victorian pump house dating back to 1885 that’s been converted into a visitor centre with cafe, shop and exhibition space. The chimney here has been turned into a bird nesting area, and there’s a viewing platform from which you can see the ducks & swans making their way down the stream.
The site is particularly important for our feathered friends, acting as a major byway for migrating, wintering and breeding birds in the area. At the right time of year you’ll see pochard, gadwall and shoveler ducks, as well as sandpipers, redshank, lapwings and kingfishers to name but a few. The cormorants even build a complex colony of sticks and branches on the larger islands to rear their downy chicks. And the aforementioned heronry is open daily, from dawn until dusk.
You could easily spend all day here, and still see only a fraction of what’s on offer. And by the end of it, you’ll really question whether you really were in London the whole time.
NOTE: The Walthamstow Wetlands is open seven days a week between 9.30am to 4pm. Entry is free, however parking charges start from £2 for up to one hour. The site is easily accessible by public transport. You can find out more at their website right HERE.
The Walthamstow Wetlands | 2 Forest Road, N17 9NH
Fancy a drink afterwards? Get thee to the Jellied Eel…