Keep it special, keep it safe

Keep it special, keep it safe

Walthamstow Wetlands has been designed to give you an unforgettable experience getting close to nature. It is both a nature reserve in the heart of London as well as an operational site for Thames Water.

To ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience at Walthamstow Wetlands, please observe the below terms and conditions for all visitors. Please help us 'Keep it special, keep it safe!'


In these challenging times, we are endeavouring to keep the nature reserve open.

Following the government’s updated national restrictions guidelines on COVID-19 on Monday 4th January 2021, please review the following site rules and information before visiting Walthamstow Wetlands:

  • Walthamstow Wetlands will remain open between 10.30am – 4pm daily. On weekends and bank holidays, last entry is at 3.30pm. 
  • The site is open for exercise only; walking, running or cycling are permitted activities. Please ensure you only jog and cycle on the main path (all other paths are walking paths). 
  • Please comply with social distancing guidelines at all times and stay 2m away from other site users and members of staff
  • Please follow the guidance on meeting others safely when onsite. You must stay in your household bubble, support bubble, or meet only one other person for exercise only.
  • No dogs are allowed on site – even the best behaved dogs can frighten wildlife and disrupt habitats
  • No alcohol is allowed at Walthamstow Wetlands which is a Thames Water operational site as well as a nature reserve
  • No paddling, swimming, or sitting near water's edge
  • The Engine House is closed. There is no access to toilets on the site.  
  • The carpark is closed except for blue badge holders until further notice. Parking for blue badge holders is free. Please contact reception upon arrival/exit for access (contact number is provided at the gate). 
  • The Coppermill Tower remains closed until further notice.
  • The World's Larder cafe will remain open from 10:30 - 3:30pm, serving takeaway only from the terrace located at the rear of the building. There is no seating available. 
  • No BBQs are permitted onsite to avoid the risk of fire
  • Do not approach the water, nor swim or paddle - these working reservoirs are full of hidden dangers and the water is cold and deep
  • Please take your litter home (or use the bins at each exit) - even the smallest piece of litter spoils other people’s enjoyment of this very special place and can harm wildlife
  • Angling is not permitted onsite, both for day and seasonal permit holders, until further notice.  
  • Birdwatching is not permitted onsite until further notice. 
  • For more information on site rules, please click here:

Please note that these arrangements may change without notice. Please always check our website before your visit

Sign up to Waltham Forest Council's e-newsletter to get the latest COVID19 information

Beware of other users onsite

Walthamstow Wetlands is a Thames Water operational site

Please respect the other users of this very special site. Unlike any other nature reserve or open space, this one is supplying drinking water to 3.5 million people every day. The Thames Water staff on site will do their best to keep out of the way of visitors, but they have an important job to do. This has to take priority and they need your understanding and cooperation as they go about their work.

No paddling, swimming, diving or use of boats

The water is deep and cold with strong undercurrents

The water is deep and extremely cold just below the surface, even on a hot day. These working reservoirs are full of hidden dangers, including strong currents caused by the need to pump water around.  So paddling, swimming or diving and the use of boats is not allowed in any of the reservoirs.  The banks are steep and slippery and, however tempting it may be to get closer, for your own protection you must keep away from the water at all times.

No dogs allowed

Even the best behaved dogs can frighten the wildlife

It is natural for dog owners to look for green places to walk their dogs and Walthamstow Wetlands appears to be the perfect place. However taking a dog into the Wetlands, even on a leash, is not allowed. This applies to most nature reserves around the world. Some of the reasons for these guidelines are:

  • Dogs may leave behind their territorial markings which disrupts the movement of native animals such as foxes and hedgehogs.
  • Dogs often dig and forage. This disturbs and may destroy the habitats of the animals and birds that live here.
  • Dogs may attack birds and disrupt their nesting sites, some of which are on the ground or on the water’s edge.
  • Dogs often chase and can cause injury to small animals such as lizards, mice, frogs and grass snakes.
  • Some dogs enjoy entering water however the reservoirs at Walthamstow Wetlands can be dangerous with steep sides, hidden currents and obstacles/equipment just below the water surface. Certain algae in the water is also toxic to dogs.

For the well-being of the native plants, animals and birds here at Walthamstow Wetlands, we seek your cooperation to leave your dogs at home when you visit Walthamstow Wetlands. Thank you for your understanding and we hope you enjoy your visit.

We do make an exception for assistance dogs on duty. Assistance dogs must be kept on the lead and under control and harnesses must state “working or assistance dog."

Please do not throw stones or feed the wildlife

Help us protect the wildlife by keeping to the paths

Visitors are asked to help avoid disturbing wildlife by keeping to the paths and defined tracks and, of course, not to skim or throw stones into the reservoirs or allow children to chase after the wildlife. Also, please do not feed the birds. Food such as bread harms them and causes pollution.

Beware of back casting lines and fishing hooks

Keep an eye open and stand well back

Walthamstow Wetlands is the largest recreational fishery in London and a special site for anglers, many of whom have been coming here for years and who pay for the privilege of using the platforms. To avoid accidents from anglers casting their leads or flies, we need to ask all visitors to keep an eye open and stand well back.

Cycling and running on designated path only

Pedestrians have priority

Most of our visitors are pedestrians, taking their time to walk round the site, and their needs have priority. Cyclists and runners are welcome but need to keep to the designated path. Disturbance to birds and flocks on the reservoirs can result from people – especially if moving quickly – being in view of the birds, especially on some unscreened embankments and paths.

No litter

Please take litter home with you

Even the smallest piece of litter spoils other people’s enjoyment of this very special place. Please take everything you bring home with you, or use the bins provided at the exits.

Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult

For their own safety

The risks present on the site mean that we require children under the age of 16 to be accompanied by an adult at all times. With deep water, strong undercurrents and heavy machinery onsite, children must be supervised at all times.

No barbeques or open fires

Avoid the risk of fire

On a special site like this, the risk of fire means we cannot allow barbecues or open fires at anytime, anywhere on the site.

Smoking is prohibited in all buildings and no alcohol may be consumed on site

To be observed throughout site

In accordance with UK law, smoking is prohibited in all buildings (including hides). Please also be aware that it is not permitted to drink alcohol anywhere onsite for your own safety. Walthamstow Wetlands is a Thames Water operational site with deep water and concealed valves, and there is also heavy machinery operating on the site.

Please stay on the marked paths and trails

Look out for signs and gates

There are a number of reasons why we might need to close all or part of the site. This could include putting up enclosure barriers while machinery is in use, or to protect nesting birds or special wildlife habitats. Please stay on the marked paths and trails and look out for signs - they are there for your protection. Joggers and cyclists must stick to the designated path.

Please take caution

There are uneven paths

The Engine House and main concrete pathway through the site are accessible for wheelchair users and those with walking difficulties. However please note that Walthamstow Wetlands is a nature reserve so the remaining pathways on the site are dirt track and they may be uneven, slippery and muddy in places. Please take care whilst walking on these paths.