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Some of London’s wildest green spaces lie to the West. Wimbledon Village oozes with old country charm. Aristocratically affluent Barnes tucked into a bend of the River Thames is an enclave of genteel calm not far from the madding metropolis. And once you are on the Wetlands reserve? Well if it wasn’t for the London skyline you’d think you’d think it was the Norfolk Broads! Join us for a breath of fresh air to explore London’s Wild West.

Meet your expert Blue Badge Guide in Wimbledon Village at 10.30am to buy morning coffee. There’s much more to Wimbledon than tennis. Where else in London are there special pelican crossings for horse riders? The War of the Worlds and, of course, the Wombles feature in our pleasant little stroll onto the Common this morning before taking the coach via some breathtaking houses, an extraordinary Thai Temple and of course the tennis club to elegant Barnes.

 You’ll never guess how Barnes got its name? Could it be that obvious? Yes it could, for here were the great grain barns for the manor of Mortlake. We drive to this secluded peninsula via more heaths and commons – it’s really hard to believe we’re but a hop, skip and jump from the City. For centuries, Londoners of quality crossed the river for clean air and the English pursuits of horse-racing, hawking, hunting, and … bowling. Today the average house price is over a million pounds and it’s a very pleasant place to live. We arrive at The Wetland Centre in Barnes for lunch in the patio restaurant or you can bring your binoculars and a packed lunch and settle in for an hours birding at one of the hides.

In an interesting twist on the concept of the concrete jungle, the centre was created from the rubble of the old Barnes Reservoirs. Today just five miles west of Piccadilly as the crow flies, we find a precious wilderness quiet enough to hear the wind in the reeds and the cries of the birds. And oh my what birds! From the pinioned bird displays in the fox proofed enclosure to the imaginative Bird Arrivals & Departure Lounge with magnificent views across the 100 acre site, the London Wetland Centre makes for a really enjoyable afternoon. We’ve even laid on some pond dipping – because why should the kids have all the fun! There’s a café on site and you can head home from 4.30pm or wait until they chuck us out at 5.30pm  

Adults: £28 Seniors: £27

Available weekdays from April

to September.

There’s not a great deal of

walking necessary but more

energetic folk can enjoy more

walking at The London Wetlands

Centre. Bring your binoculars

and dont forget to wear sensible

shoes if you’re going to join in

with a little bit of pond dipping!

Price Valid to 31 March 2021

10 miles