Opened by Sir David Attenborough in April 2016, this stunning nature reserve was born out of a local campaign to save a disused reservoir from developers.
The wetlands are run by London Wildlife Trust and are a 10-minute walk from Stoke Newington Church Street (head down Lordship Road). They’re open from 9am till 4pm every day and are fully accessible. The lovely Coal House Café on the site occupies a Grade II Listed former coal house and has indoor and outdoor seating.
The East reservoir, hailed by Time Out as one of London’s “secretly best brilliant bits” is an 11-hectare nature reserve featuring reed-fringed ponds and dykes. It’s a haven for migratory birds as well as butterflies, moths, dragonflies, frogs and toads, bats and newts. A lap around the reservoir is an easy, gentle walk. Look out for the resident heron.
Over the road is the West Reservoir, which is used for sailing and water sports and is one of London’s most beautiful outdoor swimming spaces.
The wetlands are in stark contrast to the tower blocks being constructed on the reservoir’s northern boundary – where one of the UK’s largest regeneration schemes is well underway.
Check out the West Reservoir too!
Over the road is the West Reservoir, which is used for sailing and water sports and is one of London’s most beautiful open water swimming spaces.
It's run by the Better group and activities must be booked in advance via their website.
There's also a brilliant climbing centre there.
The Coal House Cafe
Open from 9am till 4pm every day, profits from this lovely cafe support the work of London Wildlife Trust.
The cafe offers brunch, soup, lunch and hot drinks.
There's a large canopy over the outside tables to protect you from the elements.
A spectacular nature reserve
Wildlife at Woodberry Wetlands
Among the birds which migrate here from Africa for spring and summer are pochard, shoveler, tufted and gadwall ducks, reed warblers and bunting!
The site is also home to several species of bat, including pipistrelle, noctule Daubenton’s, Leisler’s, Natterer’s and brown long-eared bats.
And there’s a host of invertebrates and amphibians here – look out for dragonflies, butterflies and moths, newts, frogs and toads!
Keep an eye on The Woodberry Wetlands website for events such as music, family activities and volunteering opportunities.
A little history
The East Reservoir was built in 1833 as storage for fresh drinking water. In the 1850s grand mansions were built with gardens overlooking the reservoir but two World Wars led to many of the houses being sold off or becoming derelict. The Greater London Council compulsory purchased the homes (1930-1955) and built a large housing estate to rehouse slum dwellers from East London.
Meanwhile the water in the reservoir was treated with chlorine and sodium phosphate (1950-1980), leaving it devoid of wildlife.
In 1992 the reservoirs were listed for sale by the newly-privatised Thames Water – hoping they would be filled in and built over. Resident fought a strong campaign and eventually won! The reservoirs were cleaned up, walkways were constructed and a team of volunteers, led by London Wildlife Trust now looks after the reed bed, hedgerows and meadows.
In 2001 regeneration of the Woodberry Down Estate began – with old social housing being demolished and replaced with modern apartments.