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Image: The RSPB
One of very few ancient landscapes remaining in London, these medieval marshes right next to the River Thames were closed to the public for over 100 years and used as a military firing range. We managed to acquire the site in 2000 and set about transforming it into an important place for nature and a great place for people to visit. Now you can expect to see breeding wading birds in spring and summer, and large flocks of wild ducks in winter. Birds of prey and rare birds are regularly seen too. There are also water voles in the ditches and rare dragonflies flit across the boardwalks. There is an innovative visitor centre, with huge picture-windows that look out across the marshes. It is full of environmentally friendly features and already boasts a handful of prestigious architectural awards. There is also a shop and café and a new wildlife garden and children's adventure play area too. A full events programme offers something for everyone, and while we still have several years to go to finish all the visitor features out on the reserve, it is already an incredible transformation. Boardwalks throughout the reserve give access for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
From 1 November to 31 January, we're open from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. From 1 February to 31 October, it's 9.30 am to 5 pm. We're closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Car park: voluntary £1 donation.
Reserve: Free to RSPB members and residents of Havering and Thurrock. Non-members: £5 adult, £3 child, £15 family (two adults and up to four children).
There are extra costs for some events - please check when you book.
Birds are easy to see year round. The reserve runs a number of regular events for birdwatchers throughout the year, from novice to expert, including weekly Wednesday guided birding walk with Howard Vaughan, dawn chorus walks, winter spectacle birding event, a new birdwatching club for children, February's flock bird event and spring walks. There are also designated open days and weekends. Please see the events pages for further information.
There is an evolving events and walks programme specially designed for families, with activities for all.
All the reserve's paths and boardwalks are family and wheelchair friendly.
There are also Adventure and Toddler's Playgrounds.
No dogs allowed, except registered assistance dogs. However, dogs are allowed on the Thames riverside path - a special section of the reserve that runs alongside the River Thames. This path is a great footpath and cycleway, which links to the Sustrans route that runs adjacent to the reserve.
Note: Some reserves are not served directly by public transport and, in these cases, a nearby destination (from which you may need to walk or take a taxi or ferry) may be offered.