- Walk along the New River path, which was created over 400 years ago by King James I.
- Challenge yourself to some sports on the water on the West Reservoir, including sailing, kayaking and open water swimming.
- Head to the Woodberry Wetlands cafe, The Coal House, for a cup of tea and some cake.
- Keep your eyes peeled for some of the unusual species and wildlife that call the wetlands home.
With a name that sounds like something straight out of a fairytale, Woodberry Wetlands is one of our favourite family spots to visit in London. Located in Stoke Newington in the London Borough of Hackney, Woodberry Wetlands is one of the most beautiful and unique wetlands in London. With lots of wildlife to discover, as well as education facilities and a historic past, these wetlands are a significant gem of the local area and are truly worth a visit if you find yourself in Hackney.
Located between the trendy Finsbury Park and the huge Walthamstow Wetlands to the east, Woodberry Wetlands is a little slice of nature in the centre of London's hustle and bustle. Whether you're looking for somewhere to enjoy a family walk or a place to spot some wildlife with the kids, Woodberry Wetlands is one of London's favourite nature reserves. Made up of the East Reservoir and West Reservoir, also known as the Woodberry Down Reservoir, these bodies of water not only supply Thames Water drinking water but are also open for swimmers, as well as water sports including kayaking and sailing.
While the London areas of Stoke Newington and Manor House might not be known for their wetlands, the London Wildlife Trust has run Woodberry Wetlands since it opened in 2016, with the view that the local area is the perfect place for a nature reserve. The site has been around for over 400 years, when King James I ordered the New River to be built, in order to provide fresh drinking water for the people of London. Back then, the city more or less depended on the River Thames for their water, which was not the most hygienic. The two Stoke Newington reservoirs themselves weren't built until 1833, and were used to store water that came from the New River. You can still walk along the New River to this day, and take in some of the Woodberry Wetland's impressive history.
For those who are into sports, Woodberry Wetlands is the perfect place to come if you want to get out in the open air. Head along the New River path to stretch your legs and take in the local views, or hop on your bike to take in the surrounding areas. Cyclists will be pleased to learn that there is actually a purpose-built cycle route, known as the 'Wetlands to Wetlands Greenway', that connects Woodberry Wetlands with the nearby Walthamstow Wetlands. This is a brilliant way to explore the local area and discover some of the unique and beautiful wildlife that calls the wetlands home. At Woodberry Wetlands, there is also an opportunity to brave the water with some open water swimming. The West Reservoir Centre, which is in charge of the 23 acres of water that makes up the West Reservoir, is home to a number of water sports and puts on classes for all manner of paddle sports and sailing activities. However, you can also have a go at taking a dip, and attend one of the open water swimming sessions that run all year round (although be warned, it might get a little chilly!). Those who'd prefer to stay on dry land can enjoy a cup of tea and watch from the comfort of the nearby cafe, making this a great activity for all the family.
At the wetlands, you're also likely to find some beautiful and unique wildlife species as you make your way around the reservoirs. Wetlands make a perfect habitat for many different types of animal, and some you can find at Woodberry Wetlands include tufted ducks, grey herons, dragonflies, bats and kingfishers. On the London Wildlife Trust website, you can find monthly round-ups of the birds that have been spotted around the nature reserve at different times of the year, as well as more information on how to make the most of your visit.
There are also lots of great activities on for kids throughout the year, including workshops, the Wild Adventure Club which has a focus on nature-based activities and skills, as well as gardening classes and much more. These workshops and classes are a great way for children to both have fun, and learn a little about Woodberry Wetlands and the important role it plays in bringing wildlife to this area of London.
For something to eat as you explore the nature reserve, the Coal House Cafe, run by the London Wildlife Trust, is the perfect place to stop for a coffee. With a view over the East Reservoir, the cafe has both indoor and outdoor seating areas and is a lovely way to spend an hour. With plenty to choose from for breakfast, brunch and lunch, you'll also find lots of great veggie and vegan options on the menu, as well as tea and cakes. You are also free to bring a picnic to Woodberry Wetlands if you'd prefer to enjoy your lunch out in the wild. If you would prefer to check out one of the local eateries, there are plenty to choose from in the local area. Sublime Pizzeria & Bar is located just on Woodberry Grove as you walk up to Seven Sisters Road, and you can also find lots more options for takeaways and pub food as you wander towards Manor House tube station.
If Woodberry Wetlands piqued your interest in London green spaces and you're keen to visit some more, head south-east to Tower Hamlets to the beautiful Victoria Park, where you can check out the unique Chinese Padoga, and also try your hand at one of the many different sports on offer. Or finally, if you have some little animal lovers in your family, there's nowhere better to visit than Stepney City Farm, also located in Tower Hamlets, where you can meet all manner of furry farm creatures.
What to know before you go
- Woodberry Wetlands are open from 9am - 4pm daily.
- There are toilets, as well as baby-changing facilities and accessible toilets located on site at the Coal House Cafe.
- Woodberry Wetlands is accessible for wheelchair users and buggies, with an accessible path along the New River.
- Running and jogging is no longer allowed at Woodberry Wetlands as it disturbs wildlife.
- Only assistance dogs are allowed on site.
- If travelling by car, Woodberry Wetlands is accessible via the A503 or A105.
- There is no designated parking at the wetlands but there is unrestricted parking at Bethune Road. There are also pay-and-display parking options nearby.
- The nearest train station is Manor House, which is an eight-minute walk away. The nearest Overground station is Stamford Hill, to the east, which is a 20-minute walk from the centre of the wetlands.
- There are multiple bus services that pass by the Woodberry Grove bus stop, which include the 279, 259, 253 and 254.
- If you choose to cycle, the Wetlands to Wetlands cycle route is open, and there are places for you to lock up your bike on site.