Visiting the WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

London Wetland Centre Barnes

WWT London Wetland Centre is a wonderful place for a day out in London with over 105 acres of nature reserve to explore and outdoor activities for kids. In this guide to visiting the London Wetland Centre Barnes, I will be sharing our experiences and photos from family days out in all seasons through the years.

Wetlands Centre Barnes

London Wetlands Centre Barnes

At the WWT London Wetland Centre, there are several different wildlife habitats to see throughout the reserve, including lakes, marshes, reedbeds and gardens. The lakes, pools and gardens are home to a huge variety of wildlife including kingfishers, sand martins, wading birds and plenty more.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

Around 180 bird species are recorded at the Barnes Wetland Centre each year. Have a look at the WWT London website for the latest wildlife sightings.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

Related: February Half Term Activities in London

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a conservation charity that saves wetlands in the UK and around the world. WWT has 9 Wetland Centres in the UK and manages 3,000 hectares of prime wetland habitat, much of it designated as nationally or internationally important to wildlife.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

We have had a WWT annual family membership for several years and have found it to be such a great value. There’s so much to do at London Wetland Centre, from exploring the trails and seeing the wildlife to pond dipping and other family-friendly activities.

Wildfowl at London Wetlands Centre

Our kids love the Explore Adventure play area and interactive displays, watching the otters and spotting the wildfowl along the nature reserve paths.

On one of our spring visits we had the pleasure of seeing a mother duck surrounded by at least twelve adorable fluffy ducklings.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

Over the summer, the reserve is a beautiful lush green dotted with vibrant flowers.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

Autumn is a wonderful time to visit London Wetland Centre Barnes, with stunning autumn colours around the nature reserve. This dragonfly LEGO structure was part of the Brick LEGO trail event a couple of years ago during October half-term.

Autumn colours London Wetland Centre

Headley Discovery Hide

There are six hides dotted around the London Wetland Centre Barnes with large windows perfect for watching wildlife and photography. At Headley Discovery Hide, you’ll find telescopes plus books and other resources to help identify birds and animals. The staff at the centre were very helpful, setting up the telescope for us and pointing out interesting sights.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

This is the view of the wetlands nature reserve through the window at Headley Discovery Hide. There are six hides scattered throughout the centre, and in addition to birds, you have the chance of spotting reptiles, amphibians and water voles.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

London Wetland Centre Otters

One of the highlights of visiting the London Wetland Centre is watching the Asian short-clawed otters. They are so much fun to watch as they dive to catch their food! Keep an eye out for the otter feeding times.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

Wild Walk

The Wild Walk takes visitors on a journey through three types of wetland habitat, providing a taste of the ‘wild’ reserves across wobbly bridges, through reeds and over stepping logs.

Wild Walk London Wetland Centre

Wild Walk at London Wetland Centre

Explore Adventure Area

The Explore Adventure area is the adventure playground at WWT London Wetland Centre which is great for children of all ages. At the front, by the picnic tables, there’s a play area for toddlers and pre-schoolers with a slide.

Toddler playground at London Wetland Centre

Young children will also enjoy the riding toys showing the various stages of a frog’s life cycle, from tadpole to froglet to adult.

Toddler playground at Wetland Centre Barnes

The adventure playground at London Wetland Centre also has a network of tunnels that kids love exploring. There are several exits from the tunnels, one of which opens next to the water play area.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

The water play area at London Wetland Centre Barnes is great fun and one of our favourite things to do in London in the summer. Remember to bring along a spare set of clothes and towels! There’s a fun splash pad and a long table where kids can use the water jets to help the rubber duckies race their way back and forth.

summer things to do with kids London

Water table London Wetland Centre

Pond Zone at London Wetland Centre

Pond dipping is free at London Wetland Centre Barnes and is available April to September during weekends and half-term holidays, 1.30pm-3pm.

Pond Dipping London Wetland Centre

Stop by the Pond Zone at WWT London Wetland Centre for the chance to dip for nymphs, water boatmen and water fleas using equipment provided at timed sessions.

Pond Zone at London Wetland Centre Barnes

Discovery Centre

The Discovery Centre features an exhibit downstairs on the wetlands around the world. Upstairs, there’s an area with interactive water games where children can learn more about what it’s like to live in wetland areas, and some challenges people face such as building homes on flood plains or creating irrigation systems.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

The Discovery Centre is an excellent place for children to be interactive and learn more about these unique environments. And the water activities and arcade ball game are great fun for the little ones. It’s a great place to visit year round.

WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

What’s On at WWT London Wetland Centre

London Wetland Centre Barnes regularly runs family activities and events during the school holidays. Find what’s coming up in this part of the London Wetland Centre day out with kids post.

Family activities at London Wetland Centre

The Big Hide Out

10 – 18 February 2024

Winter is the perfect time to discover the incredible wetland wildlife from the bird hides at London Wetland Centre Barnes. Binoculars and telescopes will be available to borrow, and hideout experts will be on hand sharing top tips to help you explore.

Collect your bird spotter sheet from the entrance to the café (suggested donation £1). Drop-in family bird watching sessions are on daily at Headley Hide (all ages welcome), from 10am to 12pm and from 1:30pm to 3:3pm.

London wetland centre mud kitchen

In addition to the Big Hide Out, there are many more outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy over February half-term around the wetland centre, including den building (suitable for ages 6+), nest-making (suitable for under 6) and playing in the mud kitchen.

Read more about the February half term activities at WWT London Wetland Centre

Find more inspiration for the London February half term in our round-up post: February Half Term Activities in London

WWT London Wetland Centre Address

Address: Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London SW13 9WT

London Wetland Barnes Opening Times: Open 7 days a week, 364 days a year. Opening times vary throughout the year. From 1 February to 21 July: 9.30am to 5.00pm. From 22 July to 3 September: 9.30am to 5.30pm. From 4 September to 28 October: 9.30am to 5pm. Last admission is one hour before closing.

London Wetland Barnes Booking: There is no requirement to book your visit in advance. Prices from £15.40 for adults, £10 for child 4 to 17 years and children under 4 enter free.

WWT Annual Membership

Membership options are available to enjoy unlimited free entry to all nine wetland centres across the UK. Annual membership prices start at £51 (or £4.25 a month). You have 30 days from the day of your visit to submit your admission receipt and have the admission fee deducted from the membership cost if you decide to join the WWT. We had an annual WWT membership for several years while living in Chiswick and it is such a great value.

Food and Drink: The Water’s Edge Café is located near the entrance and offers plenty of options, from picnic boxes with a sandwich, fruit, juice and snacks, to hot meals, e.g. chicken goujons, jacket potatoes and soups.

Parking: Parking is free for visitors – make sure to pick up a token from the WWT staff to open the car park gate as you drive out.

This post was updated on 16 January 2024 with upcoming event details and up-to-date visitor information.

Pin for Later – Visiting the WWT London Wetland Centre Barnes

London Wetland Centre Barnes

  1. Love the idea of the hunt. Great place and experience for all the family.
    Will try to visit next time we’re down.

  2. It’s a lovely place and great for families! There’s a lot to see there and I was impressed with the interactive activities and play areas.

  3. I can never believe that this place in London. It is so tranquil, and the play areas are fantastic. It is such a wonderful place, thanks for reminding me of it! #citytripping

  4. It’s such a peaceful place and same here, I can never believe how central it is! It’s great to have a place like that nearby to explore. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. This is, hands down, my favourite place to take kids in London, which I daresay is controversial, but there you go. So much to do! Do varied! So welcoming for children! I highly recommend going on one of their feeding rounds, and in fact everything! Love the duck trail! I better stop or I will run out of exclamation marks!

  6. I love it here – we’ve been a few times in all weathers and it’s such a wonderful spot. The otters are definitely my favourite. #citytripping

  7. I’ve still never been to the Wetland centre…thanks for reminding me…I really must go this spring/summer. Such a peaceful oasis filled with wildlife – in London. The egg hunt so really fun and the playground would go down very well with my daughter! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  8. This looks great – I’ve often wondered what it’s like! It’s not too far from us either, so it’s definitely on the list now!

  9. What a cool place to visit! It’s done so well for kids to enjoy seeing real wildlife & also the statues. The activities look amazing. My daughter would love the water table & games so much! Thanks so much for linking up with #bloggerclubuk x

  10. This is right up our street, one day we will get there. Love all the water themed play areas too. Looks like a great day out #CountryKids

  11. I have seen posts from here before on Country Kids and every one makes it look like something special. There is a great balance between education, learning and fun for kids, this is the same as our aims at Coombe Mill, may by that’s why the Wetland Centre appeals so much. It really does look like a good day out and so hard to believe you are in London. I love the tip on taking spare clothes, it sounds essential if you are going to participate in all they have to offer. Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids.

  12. We’re WWT members and go frequently you our local reserve at Slimbridge. We’ve done the duck hunts too in the past. I think it’s great how they are doing more and more activities to get children interested and involved. Must go to this WWT reserve at some point in the future!

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