- Keep an eye out for unusual and rare wildlife that calls Walthamstow Wetlands home.
- Watch the sunset over the beautiful water of the reservoirs as you stroll around the reserve.
- Enjoy a delicious eco-hamper picnic from The Larder on site, with 99% recyclable packaging.
- Kids can get involved with some of the educational and fun nature-themed activities put on by Walthamstow Wetlands.
Located in the London Borough of Waltham Forest, the beautiful Walthamstow Wetlands is an oasis in the middle of the busy city. With 10 reservoirs and 211 hectares of parkland that is noted for its significant local wildlife, Walthamstow Wetlands is one of the largest nature reserves in London, and is a top destination for families.
Just a 15-minute journey from central London, the wetlands are located close to the famous Walthamstow Marshes, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its abundance of unusual and rare wildlife. If you are a keen birdwatcher, enjoy fishing, or are just looking for a spot to take the kids for some fresh air, the nature reserve at Walthamstow Wetlands is the perfect option. With a large expanse of land that stretches from the Walthamstow Marshes all the way up to the Tottenham Marshes, there are a number of places to access the wetlands, and plenty to explore and discover.
As London's largest urban wetland, nature takes a front seat at this beautiful area of north-east London. The park is also a Lee Valley Special Protection Area and is dedicated to preserving local wildlife. For those who are interested in birdwatching, this is the place to come to see herons, ducks, egrets and much more. There are 54 different species of wetland birds that have been identified at Walthamstow Wetlands throughout the year, most of which are counted as rare birds such as kingfishers and green sandpiper. As a result of so many rare birds calling the wetlands home, they are visited regularly by conservation authorities to make sure their population is sustained. Beautiful Long-tailed ducks, as well as long-tailed tits and little egrets can be seen in the summer, and goldeneyes, created grebes and grey herons can be seen during the winter. For more information on the beautiful birds that can be found at Walthamstow Wetland site, head to the website where there is a round-up of all the birds that have been spotted every month. Those who are really keen to get up close to the birds can apply for a birdwatching permit, which allows you access to restricted areas, and the ability to visit the site out of hours.
As well as the beautiful birds on this nature reserve, there is also the opportunity to fish. While the multiple reservoirs are also used for supplying water to Thames Water, there are also thousands of fish including rainbow trout, carp, bream, pike, perch and more. There are two reservoirs that are specifically reserved for fly fishing, so if this is a hobby you enjoy, the wetlands are a great place to visit.
While the Walthamstow Wetlands are known for their unique London marshes and as a nature reserve, there is also some interesting history that surrounds the park. The engine house, which is now a cafe, has existed since the turn of the 19th century and used to be known as Ferry Lane Pumping Station. The Ferry Boat Inn and the Coppermill on site are also Grade II listed buildings and are worth a visit if you are interested in history.
If you are planning on visiting with the family, you don't need to be a nature whiz, keen angler or history buff. The large expanse of parkland and beautiful reservoirs make Walthamstow Wetlands a beautiful spot for a family outing, and it's the perfect way to get away from the busy city centre for some fresh air. If you've been looking for some great walks in Walthamstow, this is certainly one of our top picks. With plenty to do for kids, such as spotting wildlife (there are printable spotting sheets for the wetlands available to download online), to checking out the Wetlands Contemporary, an arts space located in the engine house, there is a huge range of activities that will add an educational and fun touch to your visit to the nature reserve. There is also a selection of events and activities for children that are run by the Walthamstow Wetlands, such as arts, crafts and storytelling for under 5s, Forest School for children up to school age, and Bushcraft for kids aged from 6-11. Here, children can get to grips with basic survival skills such as cooking, creating shelters, and using tools. Another popular family activity is the Wild Weekends that are on offer, where kids can inspect the ponds, search for minibeasts and learn some gardening skills.
Whether you've come to take a wander along the Walthamstow reservoirs or check out the local wildlife, there's a good chance you'll be ready for something to eat on your trip to Walthamstow Wetlands. If the weather suits, you can bring a picnic to enjoy in the park. Or, another great option is grabbing an eco-hamper from The Larder. The hampers can be bought for two or four people and ordered from the Walthamstow Wetlands cafe, and contain everything you need for a delicious lunch, with 99% recyclable packaging! Alternatively, if you prefer to sit in to eat, the Engine House Cafe, run by The Larder, is a brilliant spot for a hot meal, or cake and a cup of tea. You can also enjoy some local produce, and the menu changes depending on what seasonal dishes are on offer.
If you were blown away by your experience at Walthamstow Wetlands and are keen to explore more of the beautiful natural sites on offer in London, head to Woodberry Wetlands in Stoke Newington, Hackney, to check out another beautiful nature reserve with a view of the city. Or, to experience another of London's favourite green areas, travel south to Shoreditch Park, set in the heart of one of the city's trendiest districts.
What to know before you go
- Walthamstow Wetlands opening times are from 10.30am -4pm daily, but there are options to visit out of hours if you have a specific angling or birdwatching permit.
- The Larder is open from 10.30am - 4pm daily, except on weekends when it is open from 10am - 4.30pm.
- If you are planning on fishing or birdwatching at the wetlands, make sure you have the relevant permits, which are available to purchase online.
- There are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities available on site.
- While you are welcome to run, walk and cycle along the paths in the area, make sure you do not stray from the path, as it is easy to disturb the wildlife this way.
- Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed at the nature reserve, as even on a lead they can scare the wildlife. Assistance dogs are allowed, however.
- If travelling by car, take the A503 to the Lea Valley, which bisects the wetlands. Walthamstow Wetlands parking is available at the Ferry Lane entrance, for a small fee.
- The nearest stations to the centre of the wetlands are Tottenham Hale Tube and rail station, but there is also Northumberland Park to the north of the wetlands and Lea Bridge to the south.
- There are also many bus routes that will take you to the wetlands, with links to the rest of London.