Words by Jessica Peace

It’s hard to think of another park in London that shares the sense of wildness that is so alive here. A place where you can smell the pines, hear the birds belting out their numbers and rushes shaking in the breeze.

There are still the dull sounds of sirens, trains and traffic; even the views from the hides are framed by high rise flats, cranes and suburban sprawl. But this is what makes the London Wetland Centre so extraordinary; we are in this mad city but we have all of this.

For the plant heads, as well as the wildflowers crawling across the reserve there are small meadows and a series of sustainable gardens.

The Rain Garden is designed by Nigel Dunnet, who recently designed the planting for the Barbican Centre and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

There is also stuff for the tree geeks, including some massive Conifers and Eucalyptus.

Visiting at this time of year means you get the last of the summer’s flowers still on the dance floor against the backdrop of Autumn colour. Plant hedonism.

School boy error, should have taken some binoculars or hired some at the entrance for a fiver.

Once I entered the first hide I knew I was missing out; there were lots of words that I’d heard on Spring Watch being thrown about, ‘have you seen the Bittern?’, ‘there’s a Stonechat’. A couple watched a Sparrowhawk as I trod past, it might as well as have been a pigeon. But without a pair of bins I did find Otters (not hard they have their own pond), Jays, Robins, Magpie Geese, Heron...

Bird Hide Etiquette

If you do open your mouth in the hide you’d better keep it ornithological – bird stuff.

Also, be careful when you lean back on the stools, it turns out they are not attached to the floor. The top floor of the Peacock Tower is where the serious twitching happens that mate is a birding term.

How Much?
Bang for your buck.
Adult ticket is £12.26 and Year Membership is £50 Concession prices are available

Nearest Tube

Hammersmith or get the train from Waterloo to Barnes. Both stops are just a ten minute bus ride away, get the 33, 72 or 209 and get off at the ‘Red Lion’. It took me about 15 minutes to walk from Barnes Station.

Shanks’s Pony

You can get to the centre via the River Thames towpath, about 25 minutes walk from Hammersmith Bridge or Putney.

Follow The London Wetland Centre @WWTLondon WWT (The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust) are supporting the timetobeheard# campaign. Follow the link to show support: https://www.wwt.org.uk/support/timetobeheard/

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published