Since opening in October 2017, Walthamstow Wetlands has now received over 1 million visits from the local community and further afield in London and the United Kingdom as well as overseas.
Providing a vast and tranquil space with 10 reservoirs, a diversity of rare and resident wildlife and a fascinating industrial history dating back to the 19th century, Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve has proved a popular destination for those wanting to connect with the wild inside the urban.
During these testing times, when the normal way of life for many has been turned upside down due to the covid-19 crisis, Walthamstow Wetlands has provided a space to explore the Great Outdoors, birdwatch, exercise and find solace in unprecedented circumstances. With over 300k people living within a 5km radius, the Wetlands has proved an especially unique resource for local residents.
The site’s popularity has grown enormously since the end of March, and although events and volunteering activities have been paused for the duration of this time, the site has still welcomed approximately 240,000 visits between March – June. During the same period last year, the site welcomed approximately 100,000 visits so this year has seen a 140% rise in visits.
As a Thames Water operational site supplying more than 500 million litres of clean drinking water to 3.5 million people daily, an internationally important nature reserve with a Site of Special Scientific Interest-designation as well as an open space with free public access, Walthamstow Wetlands has understandably faced challenges in balancing the various uses of the site during the covid-19 crisis.
Opening hours have been restricted to allow Thames Water teams to operate safely onsite, and the Engine House and Coppermill Tower have been closed as well as the car park (except for blue badge holders). Through dedicated partnership working, staff from Waltham Forest Council, London Wildlife Trust and Thames Water have worked hard to successfully keep the nature reserve open throughout for all to enjoy.
To ensure the site can remain open, visitors must continue to respect the site rules, including no alcohol, no dogs and no approaching the water – all of which are of importance to ensure the safety of visitors and that clean drinking water is delivered. By respecting the rules and working together, Walthamstow Wetlands can continue to provide a place of respite for both people and wildlife in these extraordinary times.
Header image: Walthamstow Wetlands.