WWT London Wetland Centre
Reserve Name WWT London Wetland Centre
Managing Authority WWT
Queen Elizabeth’s Walk
Access (Public Transport)
WWT London Wetland Centre is situated close to Central London in Barnes. From Barnes train station, take buses 72 or 33 and alight at the Red Lion pub (150 metres from the reserve entrance). From Barnes Bridge train station bus 209 also stops opposite the Red Lion pub. Via tube, travel to Hammersmith tube station (on the Piccadilly and District & Circle lines), then take bus 283 from stand K which drives direct to the reserve.
WWT London Wetland Centre has 12 free accessible, extra wide parking spaces for blue badge holders. These are located nearest to the reserve entrance (40 metres from visitor centre). Accessible car park spaces are indicated just beyond entry to the car park. There is no charge for using the car park, for people visiting the reserve. A wide drop-off point opposite the reserve entrance with space for a couple of cars and an central island to help traffic flow. There are parking spaces for up to nine large coaches (request advance booking).The car park surface is tarmac, even, firm and level, and the car park is well-lit from lamp posts.
Open every day except Christmas Day.
Summer opening times:
9.30am to 6pm (last admission 5pm).
Winter opening times:
9.30am to 5pm (last admission 4pm).
Every toilet block features accessible toilets. Toilets are located next to the car park; within the visitor centre; behind the theatre and across the reserve next to the adventure playground. Toilets are lit with halogen ceiling lights, have a non-slip lino floor and press-down or lever taps. The width of the toilet doors is 79cm. The toilet is 46cm from the floor.
Disabled toilets have handrails, extra space and an emergency cord. Toilets are open during the reserve’s opening hours.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust manage the facility. The reserve is always staffed at the visitor centre and café, and there are also wardens around the reserve, and often ‘Guides in the Hides’ who can give help and information at any time. Staff carry radios to allow communication across the reserve.
Contact details for Warden: For any questions, contact WWT London Wetland Centre on 020 8409 4400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. An access statement is also available on their website.
The visitor centre is fully accessible by wheelchair. It has ground-level access, no stairs and non-slip lino floors. Volunteers or staff can help open doors if necessary, but, particularly in warm weather, doors are often propped open. There is a hearing loop at the visitor centre and theatre. Ask the staff at the information desk for information for disabled visitors. Visitors are usually offered a free map on arrival. Information boards with white chalk writing feature special events, sightings and other information. Other boards and leaflets are available too.
Trails & Paths
The site is 42 hectares in total. There are two main nature trails from the visitor centre, the West route and South route, both are similar lengths and both contain accessible hides. The paths wind and branch to enhance the sense of wildness, but are always wide, flat and accessible. The first hide on the South route is only a few minutes from the visitor centre, but the visitor centre itself boasts a heated observatory overlooking the main wetlands.
The café looks out across the entrance lake and its island. Paths are wheelchair friendly and accessible throughout. Mostly, the path surface is compact, sturdy tarmac. There are some features like bridges that have a boardwalk surface. All main paths are wider than 1200mm and there is enough room for two wheelchairs to pass each other throughout the reserve. The reserve is mostly flat throughout – there are no steep slopes or medium gradients.
The camber of the paths it is not noticeable, but carefully designed to improve path drainage and rain run-off. It should not cause any problems for wheelchair users. There are no surface breaks along the paths. Bridges contains boards perpendicular to direction of travel, but gaps between these are small and should not cause any problems.
The Wetlands of the World area at the start of the West route features captive wildfowl from across the world as well as an Asian short-clawed otter enclosure. Between enclosures are gates, which should be kept shut after passing through them.
Gates are approximately 70cm tall, not heavy and wide enough for a mobility scooter to pass through. Gates are kept shut with a simple gate latch that is not stiff. Ask at the visitor centre if you require help opening these. Also on the West route, a full height pair of doors marks entry to the ‘Wild Side’. Latches are at approximately 100cm above ground level.
Entrance to the ‘Wild Side’ is wide. Paths are well managed so that there is not usually any overhanging branches below a height of 2 metres. All main paths have a width of well over 1 metre.
There are several hides along the main paths, and these contain benches that can act as resting places. Hides also mean visitors are out of the wind and/or rain. Picnic benches are located approximately every 50 metres along the West route. There are also benches with level space for a wheelchair at main view points such as a perch overlooking the sheltered lagoon on the South route. Benches or picnic tables do not often have backs, except at the café.
All hides throughout WWT London Wetland Centre are structured similarly. All paths approaching hides are flat, compact tarmac, with the exception of the wader scrape hide on the South route, which is surrounded by compacted gravel. Hides are mostly located on a path that runs parallel to the hide, so there is space to approach the entrance from both sides.
There are no steps at any of the entrances to hides at WWT London Wetland Centre. Hide doors pull open outwards from a handle at a height of 76cm. Hide doors are not heavy and the door at the largest hide (the Peacock Tower) is usually propped open. Visitors pass through the door and can take either the lift or the stairs to the first or second floors. The lift works throughout opening hours.
Smaller hides have a single door opening of 79cm. Larger hides have double door openings of 166cm. Hides have space for wheelchairs, and most contain movable benches too. Hide windows are approximately 1+ metres in width. Some hide windows have wheelchair viewing slots. Hides contain a range of lower windows, wheelchair viewing slots and floor to ceiling windows (c. 380mm height). There is space inside the hides for a wheelchair user to turn.
The wader scrape hide contains a ramp to the viewing areas. Hide windows can be quite heavy and open inwards and downwards. Hide windows have twist latches, which vary in terms of ease of use, some are stiff.
Some seats in the hides are moveable, some are fixed. Some hides contain partitioning boards between the entrance and the windows. These can be passed in a wheelchair. Hide seats do not contain back rests, with the exception of the Headley Discovery hide which contains low sofas!! Elbow rests are below the windows.
Boardwalks & Bridges
The start of boardwalks, from tarmac to boardwalk, do not have a noticeable lip. Boardwalks are usually used over waterways. They are estimated to be over 2 metres wide. The boards are grooved to be less slippy, both the grooves and the boards are at right angles to the direction of pedestrian flow. There are gaps between boards but these are estimated to be about 11mm wide. Boardwalks have high sides made from sturdy wooden beams (with viewing gaps) forming an impassable barrier. The lowest beam is over 75mm in height.
These line the boardwalks and the total height of the barrier is about 1.4 metres. There are no sharp turns or steep gradients in the reserve. Boardwalks are in good condition and are frequently monitored. Non-slip treatment is provided by grooves in the boardwalks running perpendicular to the direction of pedestrian flow. The boards are completely stable and non springy. The whole structure is completely sturdy. The boards are not obstructed in any way. Boardwalks replace the tarmac paths when the route crosses water. They maintain the path width of over 2 metres.
The WWT London Wetland Centre is, in our revier’s opinion, one of the most accessible nature reserves in the country, accessible for all people.
There is no piped music playing in the shop, the café, the toilets, the visitor centre or any of the hides. At the café, staff can bring food trays to customer’s tables, but the counter also has a lower section for wheelchair users. The café caters for visitors with different dietary requirements, just ask or ring ahead if there are any questions.
The reserve is worth visiting throughout the year. In winter, waders and wildfowl occupy the main wetlands; in summer wild flowers, reptiles, dragonflies and other insects can be seen in abundance. The reserve is very child-friendly with an accessible ‘Explore Adventure Area’ and ‘Discovery Centre’.
Take a quick look around with our contributor:
Contributor Elizabeth Guntrip
Last Updated: 10-11-2015