Walthamstow Wetlands (credit James Cracknell)

Walthamstow Wetlands © James Cracknell

Walthamstow Wetlands engine house

Walthamstow Wetlands engine house credit Sam Hobson

Willow Warbler at Walthamstow Wetlands

Willow Warbler at Walthamstow Wetlands credit Iain Green 

Walthamstow Wetlands reservoir island

Walthamstow Wetlands reservoir island credit Iain Green

Goldfinch at Walthamstow Wetlands

Goldfinch at Walthamstow Wetlands credit Iain Green 

Walthamstow Wetlands reeds

Walthamstow Wetlands credit Iain Green 

In the Lee Valley a cluster of reservoirs have been transformed into Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve.

Location

Walthamstow Wetlands, 2 Forest Road
Walthamstow, London
N17 9NH
A static map of Walthamstow Wetlands

Know before you go

Size
211 hectares

Parking information

A car park for visitors is provided at the Ferry Lane entrance. There is a charge.

Access

There are four entrances. The main entrance is on Ferry Lane/Forest Road, a ten-minute walk from Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Road stations (Victoria line) and served by buses 123 and 230. There is also a visitors' car park. The other entrance on the south side is at Coppermill Lane next to Walthamstow Marshes. On the north side of the Wetlands there is an entrance opposite the car par on FerryLane/Forest Road and at Lockwood Way, off Blackhorse Lane.

The visitor centre is fully accessible, although inclement weather may affect the accessibility of some footpaths that are not paved or gravelled. 

Dogs

Guide dogs only

Facilities

Visitor centre
Bird hides
Toilets
Shop
Cafe/refreshments
Picnic area
Disabled toilet
Baby changing facilities

When to visit

Opening times

Summer: 9.30am-5pm, every day Winter: 9.30am-4pm, every day, except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Best time to visit

Mar - Jul / Sep - Jan

About the reserve

Walthamstow Wetlands is a 211-hectare site comprising ten reservoirs that provide drinking water for London and which are internationally recognised for their importance for migrating birds – particularly overwintering wildfowl.

The Victorian-era Engine House hosts a fully-accessible visitor centre with café, shop, interactive displays, viewing platform, toilets, and art installations. In addition a unique 'swift tower' has been built, in the shape of the original chimney, to house nesting swifts and roosting bats.

Walthamstow Wetlands contains a range of habitats and experiences, from sheltered dense scrub-lined banks to wide windswept views towards the city. It remains the largest fishery in London.

History of Walthamstow Wetlands

The site's ten reservoirs were built by the East London Waterworks over a 70-year period, growing in scale and height as the needs of London grew. The water bodies are a mix of statutory (raised) reservoirs and non-statutory (ground) reservoirs.

The two Victorian buildings on the southern site, the locally-listed Engine House pumping station and the Grade II-listed Coppermill, are relics of the reservoirs' evolution. Mills have existed on the Coppermill Stream since at least 1066, producing gunpowder, linseed oil and of course, copper. The Engine House, built 1894, is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture that once housed the site's pumping station, powered by a marine steam engine.

Management of Walthamstow Wetlands

A dedicated volunteering team help maintain reedbeds, grassland and hedgerows through regular conservation workdays. A programme of wildlife monitoring and surveys is also undertaken.

The Walthamstow Wetlands project has already helped enrich existing habitats as well as create entirely new ones. New reedbeds have been created in the low-lying reservoirs to support wildfowl populations and attract rare birds such as bittern. Trees have been planted and new meadows and grasslands are being created while bat boxes, bird nest boxes, and bird feeding stations, are being installed.

Volunteering opportunities exist for people of all abilities. For more information please email Nadia Ward at nward@wildlondon.org.uk or visit our volunteering page

Closed to the general public since they were first constructed 150 years ago, the reservoirs were opened in October 2017 thanks to a £10.6million partnership project between landowners Thames Water, grant holders Waltham Forest Council, and conservation delivery partners London Wildlife Trust, with support from Heritage Lottery Fund and other partners.

Our role at Walthamstow Wetlands

The Trust works at Walthamstow Wetlands in partnership with other organisations. Our role includes conservation, outdoor learning, and volunteering. The London Borough of Waltham Forest runs the Engine House, its shop and cafe, and car park. Thames Water is the site owner responsible for operating the reservoirs and issuing fishing permits. For more information please go to walthamstowwetlands.com

Status of Walthamstow Wetlands

Includes the Walthamstow Reservoirs Site of Special Scientific Interest. Part of the Lee Valley Special Protection Area, Ramsar site of international importance, and Lee Valley nr Walthamstow Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.

Wildfowl including gadwall, shoveler, tufted duck, bittern, grey heron, and cormorant, have been key to the site obtaining these designations.

Contact us

Visiting Walthamstow Wetlands

To ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience at Walthamstow Wetlands, please observe the below terms and conditions for all visitors:

  • The reservoirs supply drinking water to 3.5 million people every day. Thames Water staff on site will do their best to keep out of the way of visitors, but they have an important job to do. This has to take priority and they need your understanding and co-operation as they go about their work.
  • Paddling, swimming, diving, and boating, is banned at all reservoirs. The water is deep and extremely cold just below the surface, even in summer. There are hidden dangers, including strong currents caused by the need to pump water around, and the banks are steep and slippery. Keep away from the water at all times.
  • Dogs are not allowed on site, with the exception of assistance dogs on duty. Wildlife can easily get frightened.
  • Visitors are asked to help avoid disturbing wildlife by keeping to the paths and defined tracks. Do not throw stones into the reservoirs, allow children to chase after wildlife, or feed the birds - bread is not good for them.
  • Walthamstow Wetlands is the largest recreational fishery in London and a special site for anglers, who pay for use of the platforms. To avoid accidents from anglers casting their leads or flies, we need to ask all visitors to be aware of their surroundings and keep a safe distance.
  • Cyclists and joggers are welcome but must stay on designated paths. Most visitors are pedestrians, taking their time to walk round the site, and their needs have priority.
  • Even the smallest piece of litter can harm wildlife. Please take everything home with you.
  • Barbecues or open fires are not permitted at any time, anywhere on the site.
  • Smoking is prohibited in all buildings.
  • Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • No alcohol may be brought on to the site.
  • Parts of the site may need to be closed at any time. This could be when machinery is in use, or to protect nesting birds. Please stay on the marked paths and look out for signs.