London Visit: London Wetland Centre. If you want to get close to nature try visiting the London Wetland Centre which is located in Barnes near Hammersmith. This is part of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust otherwise known as WWT, a conservation charity to save wetlands. It makes for an enjoyable day out if you have kids or love twitching (bird watching).
Explore the London Wetland Centre
The Wetlands Centre was the vision of Sir Peter Scott who was the founder of the WWT. You’ll notice his statue at the entrance lake. The Wetlands was created out of four reservoirs which were transformed thanks to a partnership between WWT, Thames Water and Berkeley Homes.
Sir Peter Scott
Work started in 1995 with thousands of water plants and trees planted, paths and car parks were built using recycled materials and reptiles from brownfield sites in Kent were introduced to the Wetlands. People were excited about bringing nature to the city so many volunteers helped. Fast forward and today you have a Wetlands Centre which is enjoyed by bird watching enthusiasts, school children, families and tourists. It’s certainly a place you can relax and forget you’re in London.
Views From A Hide
When you enter the Wetlands, you will find the Water’s Edge Café which serves hot and cold snacks, cakes and drinks (including wine!). You can sit outside but beware of the birds who will steal your food if you aren’t paying attention. The shop is also located here which is great for picking up toys and nature inspired gifts. Yes, you do exit through the gift shop so you can buy something on your way out. The Observatory and the Discovery Centre are also located here.
Water’s Edge Cafe
There are two sides to the Wetlands known as the South Route and the West Route. The South Route is more geared towards children and more akin to a theme park. Here you will find the Pond Safari, Pond Zone, Sustainable Gardens, Adventure Area and a few educational huts. Meadows, reedbeds, the main lake and a lagoon provide a stunning back drop. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids occupied from pond dipping to watching the otter feeding.
I preferred the West Route with the Wetlands of the World where you can see water birds. You can relax while you explore the Wildside with meandering paths and swaying reedbeds, the grazing marsh and reservoir lagoon.
At the Wetlands, you can watch migrating birds, swans and ducks checking in to this five-star hotel reserved for those with feathers. These include white and black swans, geese (Hawaiian, Emperor, Barnacle, Magpie), ducks (Rouen, Bufflehead, Red Crested Pochard, Ringed Teal, Marbled, Eastern Spot-Billed) and birds (Blackbird, Thrush, Robin, Starling, Kingfisher). Also keep your eyes open for water voles, frogs, toads, newts, butterflies and bees.
Plenty of Feathered Friends
To get a great view and a chance to use your binoculars you can go inside one of the hides. The Headley Discover Hide and the Peacock Hide are worth visiting. You’ll probably find a few avid bird watchers with expensive telescopes scribbling down notes of the birds they’ve spotted. I also noticed the Berkeley Bat House which was a beautiful white sculptured structure.
Berkeley Bat House
London Wetland Centre Information
To find out more visit the WWT Website. The address is Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London SW13 9WT. To get there travel to Barnes or Barnes Bridge Train Station and it is then a 15 minute walk or you can get the 72 or 33 bus. Or you can take a tube to Hammersmith (Piccadilly and District and Circle Lines) and get a 33,72 or 209 bus which takes 10 minutes and then it’s a short walk from the Red Lion. Summer opening times are 9.30am to 5.30pm. Winter opening times are 9.30am to 4.40pm but do check on line. Entrance fees start at £7.42 for children, adults are £13.49 with concessions and family saving options.
Places to Explore Near the London Wetland Centre
We travelled to Barnes Train Station and walked through Barnes Common Local Nature Reserve. This is a beautiful area with acid grasslands and wonderful woodlands. We also explored Putney Lower Common and the beautiful Beverly Brook Walk.
Let O’ Mutton Nature Reserve
After the Wetlands Centre, we walked down Queen Elizabeth’s Walk to get on the Thames Path. Eventually you will come the Leg O’ Mutton Nature Reserve which is like a secret haven. In the middle, you have an expanse of water and you can walk around this on a small path. It’s very pretty and slightly secluded. I hope you enjoy your day out and get to relax.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks: Rich for navigating.