A visit to Walthamstow Wetlands

By David Baker

On Sunday, 27 November, a small but hardy group of individuals led by the Residents’ Association, went on a guided tour of the Walthamstow Wetlands, just off Forest Rd, opposite the Ferry Boat Inn.

The project is to turn the Walthamstow reservoirs into a vast urban wetland nature reserve and centre for learning. It is due to open in September 2017 and will give visitors access to a wonderful natural area right on our doorstep.

The reservoirs that make up the 211-hectare site are internationally recognised as being important for over-wintering wildfowl and is the largest fishery in London as well as providing water supply for Thames Water.  The project is being led by LB Waltham Forest, along with the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Greater London Authority and the Heritage Lottery Fund as partners.

We had the opportunity of walking around the site, seeing the progress of the project during the construction phase. The plan is to turn the existing Victorian
Engine House into a refurbished Visitor Centre with cafe, viewing platform and education space for the project. New cycle routes and footpaths are being added, and habitats are being enhanced by the addition of new reed beds and waterside planting.

The walk around was guided by ‘Wetlands Steve’ Ayers, who pointed out the developments underway and the varied wild life we were observing. The highlight of the tour for me was the sighting of two Peregrine falcons that were high above us, sheltering in the pylons in front of the entrance! It was extremely cold, with the wind blowing across the site but despite the weather, it was great to see this wonderful wildlife project and to see what a great resource we will have on our doorstep when complete later this year. Watch out for when it will be opened to the public, it will be an opportunity not to be missed.

Many thanks to Vally Gesthuysen for organising this event and for Wetlands Steve for making a damp and cold day so interesting and entertaining!

www.walthamstow-wetlands.org.uk

This article first appeared in the Spring 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.

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