I actually should have wrote this up ages ago as we are frequent visitors at the London Wetland Centre. (It’s literally down the street from Grandma’s house in Barnes!) We love visiting in summer the most, but autumn and spring is equally lovely and although we haven’t been in winter yet, I imagine winter-time is also worth a visit.
We are huge fans – and just recently thought about becoming members, since we visit at least twice a year. There’s so much to do with the children. For us, it’s wonderful being surrounded by nature and in the middle of London! Truly amazing experience.
What is the WWT?
The London Wetland Centre is a wetland and nature reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (hence the short name of WWT). Located in Barnes, a borough of London-suburbia: it’s an unlikely site for a huge wetland reserve stretching out on 105 acres of land. But there you are, in actual London, we have this amazing conservational site. Since the opening in 2000 opening, the centre accomplished big successes (like hand rearing and releasing Eurasian cranes into the wild in England, where they been absent for 400 years). It also launched a number of educational projects for schools and worked on evidence on flood prevention using wetlands to combat climate change. The WWT’s mission is to restore wetlands because they play an important role in nature and they might just provide the solution to the depleted nature and biodiversity crisis we face.
What is there to see and do?
Not just for wildlife enthusiasts but anyone wanting to escape from London whilst still being in London, for families wanting to enjoy the outdoors, those wanting to learn more about wetland habitats and their flora and fauna. So many things to do ad so much to explore.
Wetland walks – Nature reserve (Wildside)
Walk around 4 redundant reservoirs – all paths are flat and accessible for all abilities. Beautiful, scenic routes and you can stop for watching the wildlife in the observation hide (Guide in the Hide sessions daily at 10am and 2pm to help you to identify species)- all seasons, there’s so much to see all-year-round.
Inspiration to all aspiring and experienced gardeners wanting to bring more native plants and wildlife into any part of the garden, these sustainable gardens aim to fill you with ideas and they are just wonderful to explore.
Different bird species to spot in each season: redshanks, sandpipers, wagtails, chiffchaffs, teals – there’s a whole lot to keep an eye out for! Also insects like moths, dragonflies, grasshoppers, beetles and crickets. Rare bats are also residing in WWT – they now occupy the Lodge by the pond where some series of Springwatch was filmed.
A fantastic place for kids with interesting play areas and adventure playgrounds (with water play and underground burrow-playground), mud kitchen, trails, reading hideaway and our favourites: the wild walk and the wobbly rope bridge.
Otter feeding sessions
This is our favourite thing to do in the Wetland Centre – and we normally time our visits to see both daily feeding sessions at 11am and 2pm. The Asian Small-clawed Otters (Honey and Todd) are clearly the stars of the Wetland Centre and during the otter-feeding sessions visitors can learn amore about their food, habitat and watch the playful otters. There’s also a crane who normally shows up timely – in the hope of stealing some fish from the otters.
Spotlight Talks and Meet the Keepers
Spotlight talks are from Mondays to Sundays daily, they are a 15-minute session on a range of topics like seasonal talks, Bird of the Day and on why Wetlands are vital in reducing the impact of climate change. Meet the Keepers sessions are held at 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays and it’s a 30 minute long talk about WWT’s conservation work around the world and visitors can join the wardens feeding the exotic birds of WWT.
Adopt an animal
So you can visit it! You can also buy it as a gift for someone else. Adoption is available from £3 monthly and you get a welcome pack with a free entry to any WWT centres around the UK. Adoption fees are going towards the ongoing research and conservation work of the WWT.
When is the best time to visit?
All seasons are wonderful and equally worth paying a visit to the Wetland Centre, because there are different things happening in nature’s cycle. But I have to say our favourite is summer! But we have just been to visit in October and as long as it doesn’t rain – nature’s colours in all yellow and rust are truly beautiful to experience in WWT!
Is there a place to eat and shop?
Yes, there’s a little restaurant – pretty much like the National Trust restaurants, serving traditional cafe food: soup, jacket potatoes, fish and chips etc. and kid’s meal boxes. There’s outdoor space or indoor seating area as well. There is a little second hand book shelf by the cafe and there’s a shop by the ticket office with toys, merch and gifts.
How to get to the WWT?
The nearest train station is Barnes and the area is served by the bus routes 33, 72 and 209. There is a carpark as well.
How to buy tickets?
You can buy them online visiting the website and click ‘Book Tickets’. You can also purchase them by the entrance, there’s no need to book in advance, but it’s convenient. Prices are: £15.40 for an adult and £10.00 for junior. You can add voluntary donation to these whilst family and concession discount are also available. Children under 4 go free.
If you choose to become a member – that’s also available, a family membership costs £78.00 – which is less then a price of 2 visits, so if you live nearby it’s well worth becoming a member.