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Wilderness Island

Where two arms of the River Wandle meet, an enticing nature reserve provides a fascinating variety of wildlife habitats

Only part of Wilderness Island can genuinely be described as an island, but the reserve is dotted with ponds and is flanked on two sides by the Croydon and Carshalton arms of the River Wandle.

Habitats here include wetland, wildflower meadow and woodland that supports mature horse chestnut, willow and oak. Together it provides a valuable habitat for many species of birds and invertebrates.

The best way of exploring Wilderness Island is by following the nature trail.


Species you can see at Wilderness Island

Birds: Great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, little egret, lesser spotted woodpecker, little grebe, grey heron, moorhen, sparrowhawk, tawny owl, grey wagtail, kingfisher, blackcap, reed warblerfirecrest, chiffchaff

Fish: Stickleback, chub, barbel

Invertebrates: Hornet clearwing moth, small copper, speckled wood, holly blue, comma, Rosesel’s bush-cricket

Plants: Vervain, water-plantain, yellow flag, great reedmace, water crowfoot


History of Wilderness Island

The northern part of the reserve, the island, is where the owner of Shepley House made ponds in the 1700s to keep carp to supplement the household diet. The carp have long since gone but some of the ponds remain, and one now forms a long sedge bed. A succession of attempts to build housing here in the 20th Century were thwarted by local residents, until management was passed to the Trust in 1987 and it was designated as a Local Nature Reserve.


Management of Wilderness Island

A group of local volunteers manage the ponds, meadow and woodlands, while improving the pathways for access, and running a programme of wildlife events attended by members of the public.

Wilderness Island



Facilities at Wilderness Island

A sign-posted nature trail around the reserve, which is accessed by a bridge.


How to get to Wilderness Island

The entrance is at the junction of Mill Lane/River Gardens and Strawberry Lane in Carshalton. Bus services 127 and 151 stop in nearby Nightingale Road, while the nearest railway station, Carshalton, is less than a 10-minute walk away.


Opening times for Wilderness Island

Open at all times.


Accessibility at Wilderness Island

A circular, wheelchair accessible footpath explores the main part of the reserve, but the island and ponds can only be accessed via a bridge that is approached by steps. Footpaths on the island itself are rough and can be muddy. Access to the reserve is via a gate that can be opened by wheelchair users with a RADAR key.


Status of Wilderness Island

Part of a Site of Metropolitan Importance; Local Nature Reserve


Get involved at Wilderness Island 


Nearby nature reserves

Spencer Road Wetlands
1 miles - London Wildlife Trust
Howell Hill
4 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust
Priest Hill
4 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Mill Lane
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Best time to visit
Apr - Aug
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Opening Times
Open at all times
1.38 hectares
Local street parking, but restrictions in some areas
Dogs must be on lead
Reserve manager
Tom Hayward
Tel: 020 7261 0447