The London Wetland Centre is a member of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which has nine centres in the UK. The more than 40 hectares of the London Wetland Centre are an unusual and welcome “countryside” attraction in the heart of London. The centre was created from a former “just water” area, opening in May 2000. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and supports nationally important numbers of gadwall and shoveler duck.
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The centre has many special activities and events throughout the year. A building on the site contains exhibits and a discovery centre. There is an appropriately themed art gallery and shop. A film tells about the centre and the wetlands. A restaurant and café are part of the building. Outdoors is a picnic area, great for family get-togethers after enjoying the wetland attractions.
There are 14 habitats and five hides to visit along the boardwalks and paths of the Wetland Centre. The Great Pond Safari has water creatures for children to learn about. In the Waterlife section man’s relationship with wetlands and plants is explored. There are streams that provide a habitat for red and sedge warblers as well as water voles.
An observatory highlights views over the main lake. A three-storey tower offers 360-degree views of the reserve. From here you can see the grazing marsh, home to wigeon and breeding lapwing and snipe. Bluebells and daisies bloom in the marsh.
In the reedbeds can be seen red warblers, reed bunting, and, in winter, bittern and water rail visit. Fish in the ponds provide food for the grebe and heron. A wildside zone has a fen meadow growing common spotted orchid, ragged robin, marsh marigold, and other plants. The waterfalls and rapids section provides a river type habitat for the blue duck.
The London Wetland Centre is an ideal escape from the city for adults and children alike and makes for an interesting and rewarding day out.
London Wetland Centre
Queen Elizabeth Walk
Barnes, London, SW13 9SA
Tel. 020 8409 4400
Open: winter--9.30am-5pm (last admission 4pm); summer--
9.30am-6pm (last admission 5pm); late night opening every Thu from May until mid Sep; admission half price from 6pm, last entry 8pm.
Located less than one mile from the South Circular (A205) at Roehampton and the A4 at Hammersmith; plenty of parking available at the centre.
Nearest underground: Hammersmith tube; from Hammersmith Tube take the 283, the specially branded Duck Bus from stand C, which will bring you directly to the centre. Alternatively, buses 33, 72, and 209 stop nearby (get off at the Red Lion Pub).
By bus: from Waterloo, Clapham Junction, or Richmond to Barnes or Barnes Bridge. The London Wetland Centre is a ten-minute walk from Barnes station, and buses are frequent.
On the web: Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust