A few days ago, I wrote about a visit to the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands. Did you know there are special activity days for children under fives and their adult companions on Mondays and Wednesdays, 10am-3pm?
There’s the promise of story-telling, crafts and wildlife activities – and it’s all free.
If there’s a blue sky over London, I can’t think of a better place to be than the Walthamstow Wetlands – Europe’s largest urban wetland – which opened to the public only a few weeks ago. There’s something incredibly heartening about being encircled by huge skies, and seeing the sunlight cast reflections onto the reservoirs, rivers, channels and streams that run through the reserve.
And it’s not just for walkers, birders or fishing enthusiasts, it’s a fine place to be as a family with toddlers. The principle paths are stony, so although I’m sure they get muddy from time to time, they’re also a good bet for pushchairs and scooters. There was one section where we needed to carry the pushchair up some stairs to walk on the bund of the reservoir, but I noticed an accessible path has been constructed – it’s just not yet open.
Walthamstow Wetlands get the seal of approval from my four-year-old who passed her verdict (‘beautiful’) and is keen to return. So are the rest of us. We only walked round a small part and it will be interesting to see the whole reserve change through the seasons. On our first visit, we spotted a heron, but we’re already looking forward to next year’s ducklings, goslings and cygnets. If you have binoculars for your little one, be sure to bring them.
The old Engine House has been beautifully restored and there’s a nice-looking cafe inside as well as a viewing point and what looked like a spot to eat your own sandwiches. The cafe had a long queue when we visited, so I can’t tell you what the food tastes like, but it looked pretty appetising.
As the website advises, the car park is small. If you can, you’re better off coming by train, tube or even by bike up the Lea/Lee valley.
It’s free to visit and open 9.30am-4pm (October-March)
This weekend – Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 – from 12 noon the Museum of London Docklands is the place to be for free songs and stories that, despite being terribly nautical, are entirely suitable for families.
Together with your toddler(s), you’ll have the chance to sing a sea shanty or two, hear stories from the sea in your shell-like, and try your hand at craft activities including making a pirate hat.
Why it’s the shiny scales of a dragon catching the sun as the season turns from summer to autumn, of course.
You can meet said dragon, or even run along her, at Bob’s park at the back of the Bromley-by-Bow centre. Even though this is very much our manor, I’ve never before visited this lovely little park with the baby and the three-year-old. There was a great deal for them both to enjoy.
Bob’s park is another of the smaller local parks that might get overlooked with the Olympic Park and Victoria Park not far away, unless of course you live in a neighbouring street at which point it becomes a godsend. It’s locked at night, which keeps it relatively litter-free. It’s also clearly loved…
There’s a small fruit and vegetable garden that’s well tended. There’s a small playground split into two for smaller and older children which has some interesting equipment including a wobbly, wooden balance beam. And there’s a dragon.
There’s also plenty of green space to run about. And there’s a cafe in the Bromley-by-Bow centre for refreshments (Open Monday-Friday 8.30am-3.30pm – check here).
Bob’s park has a nice feeling about it – like a secret you’re pleased to discover. You can access it from Bruce Road or St Leonard’s Street.
We’ll be going back.
In case you’ve missed the others, this is the fourth post in an occasional series featuring smaller local parks and playgrounds which you may have passed by, but never visited. So far, we’ve covered:
Story Spectacular at Victory Park, Stratford 12noon-4pm
Alternatively if dogs aren’t your thing, make your way to Victory Park, where storytellers from Discover will be performing, ‘Aliens love underpants’. There’s also face-painting, plus the chance to climb aboard a real life fire engine.