run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Tuesday 6 April 2021

NW London family days outdoors: Woodberry Wetlands

With three kids aged five and under, it feels like I’ve already visited most of NW London’s kid-friendly spots ... a lot. If I had a pound for the number of times someone’s asked me if I’ve ever taken the kids to the RAF museum, I’d be able to buy one of its Spitfires. I’ve spent more days in Golders Hill Park than the donkeys who actually live there. 

Now, the kids will happily revisit anywhere with a playground / log to jump on / ice cream. But I get bored. So when I stumble upon a new spot, it's exciting. 

And so to today’s visit - of which my eldest asked ‘can we come back tomorrow?’ before we’d even left. Woodberry Wetlands has been regenerated by luxury housing developers - who’ve built a smooth weaving path around a large reservoir and alongside natural wetlands, sprinkled two good playgrounds in between, giving a good half or full day out, depending on how slow you walk. (PS you'll find loads of other days out ideas here.)

It's a beautiful walk - and there’s loads to do for kids. Alongside those two playgrounds, one of which has a super fast Shard-like design silver tube slide, there are Wind in the Willows sculptures, log trails, birds and animals to spot (we saw lots of new chicks although my poor photos of them give the impression that I enjoy snapping litter ..), a great cafe, a water feature that’s the closest I’ll get to Chicago’s famous mirrored bean for a while, and bug hotels aplenty. 

It’s all well sign posted (currently a one way system around the water and wasn’t too busy on the sunny but freezing day we visited), buggy friendly and very scootable too. Parking is free on the Stanford hill side - eg no restrictions on Bethune Road - or you can pay to park on or near Lordship Road, where there's an entrance which is much nearer the cafe and main playground. 

Once you've parked, follow the signs to Woodberry Wetland and you won’t get lost: there are two reservoirs to stroll around - the West Reservoir has watersports in normal times but currently its path is under construction so there's not as much access there, whilst the East Reservoir is on the other side of Lordship Road.  

This has a great smooth board walk, beautiful swaying reedbeds (which you can’t walk on) and the Coal House Cafe, once used to feed the workers who built the reservoir in the 1800s and now an excellent cafe (takeaway only for now) with every Middle Class Menu Bingo item present. From mozzarella focaccia to smashed avo, sourdough and elderflower spritzers to smoked salmon and vegan breakfasts, plus cakes. The only downside I spotted was the queuing system, which is all inside the cafe. Unnecessarily Covid-spreading, in my view, when it's safer and just as easy to queue outside. 

There's a grassy area outside where you can picnic with your food or the cafe's, plus plenty of benches dotted around outside the new towerblocks of flats. This area also has logs for kids to clamber over, Mr Toad and Moley sculptures, lots of duck and coot nests to spot, and sun traps to relax in. We visited on a cold, windy day and this part was more sheltered.The walk loops around the reservoir and it's all free. Enjoy!


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