Waterway oases: 8 sites to enjoy natural river life in London

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You may not realise it, but London prides itself on being one of the world’s ‘greenest’ cities and no more is this apparent than in many of its river sites – of varying size – that are being ‘re-wilded’ to return biodiverse environments to the capital. Intrigued? Well, here are just a few such sites you’ll find dotted throughout the city…

London

Deptford Creek (Greenwich/ Lewisham)

Like the idea of spotting beautiful birds like sandmartins nesting in a peaceful environment? Then pop along to this spot’s newly developed sandbank on the Thames – and don’t forget to bring your binoculars with you!

Beam Parklands (Dagenham)

Head out eastwards from the centre of town and you’ll come across this enormous area of marvellous natural parkland (a full 13 hectares of it, in fact); large enough indeed to contain habitats ranging from grassland to fenland and woodland. The River Beam also runs through this huge space, which you can walk or cycle along for a whole eight kilometres.

richmond park

Beverley Brook (Richmond Park)

A few miles out of town in may be, but the truly glorious – and expansive – Richmond Park to the west of the capital is notable for this list because it comprises a ‘re-wilded’ stretch of river; indeed, thanks to now being cleared of silt, the appealing Beverly Brook doesn’t just attract human admirers but all sort of different fish and minibeasts too.

Woodbury Wetlands (Hackney)

Where better to come across nature at its most profoundly confident and beautiful than right in the trendy beating heart of today’s trendy East End (and so just a short Tube ride away from hotels near Moorgate, like The Montcalm at The Brewery London City?) This little patch of heaven was closed off to the public for nearly 200 years, but not anymore. Now it’s fully open for locals and visitors alike to enjoy and bringing back biodiversity to the area.

Firs Farm Wetlands (Winchmore Hill)

Boasting a full 700 acres and the resurrection of a once lost river (Moore Brook), these charming wetlands offer visitors a plethora of trees, a wildflower meadow and a cycle track and footpath.

Lordship Recreation Ground (Tottenham)

Blessing the hugely urban community of Tottenham in the north-east of the city with a wonderful natural landscape to enjoy, this newly developed recreation ground not only comes complete with 400 metres worth of winding river and floodplain habitats, but also a track for off-road bikers, a performance space, a café and a community building that’s entirely environmentally friendly.

Project Reedbed (Lee Navigation)

Also out east is this reclaimed natural habitat that’s basically a combination of reedbeds, making it a perfect visitors’ spot for twitchers and more general naturalists, as it’s proving effective in returning greenery and birds (including wildfowl) to the waterway that runs through this part of town.

Causeway Open Space (River Crane)

Finally, moving across the capital westwards again and stopping near Hatton Cross Tube station, you’ll discover this backwater newly developed around the local River Crane. It’s becoming a stomping ground for fish of all types, ensuring the river is successfully connecting with its floodplain once more.