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About Rainham Marshes

Image: Andrew Gouldstone

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 and grass snakes in the ditches and an abundance of dragonflies flit across the boardwalks.

The reserve is a great place to visit all year round – bring your family, your camera, binoculars or telescope, or just yourself and get ready to explore the reserve and get close to wildlife. You can stop off in our cafe for lunch and a cuppa, and stock up on your nature friendly products, optics and gifts in the shop.

Exploring the reserve throughout the year is easy via a network of good paths and boardwalks. Don’t worry if you have not been here before – come into our RSPB Purfleet Visitor Centre and we can give you a map, show you where to go, and tell you about the recent sightings.

We have a visitor centre, cafe, shop, bike hire, events, good paths, car park, toilets, picnic areas, toddlers and adventure playground, climbing boulders, and a number of hides that give great views of wildlife, even without binoculars – but you can hire a pair from us for the day, or buy a set from our range. The Thames riverside paths give lovely views across the Thames - where you will see birds, boats and London. These paths are great for jogging, cycling and walking your dog too.

Paths and boardwalks throughout the reserve give access for wheelchairs and pushchairs; there is more information about access on these pages – look for the ‘accessibility’ tab on the left hand of this page.

We run curriculum linked courses for all age school groups, and fabulous fun days out for groups such as scouting groups, youth groups, and adults groups too (pond dipping, climbing and cycle workshops are a favorite!) – just ask for details.

There is something for everyone. You don’t need to bring anything – just you, your family and a sense of adventure!

Opening times

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.

The reserve will be open on Christmas Eve but depending on visitor numbers we may shut earlier than usual. We will be closed Christmas and Boxing Day.

Entrance charges

Car park: voluntary £1 donation. Reserve: Free to RSPB members and residents of Havering and Thurrock. Non-members: £5 adult and £3 child. There are extra costs for some events - please check when you book.

If you are new to birdwatching...

Birds are easy to see all year-round. There is a range of events throughout the year – something for everyone! They range from wildlife watching walks, to themed days, family fun events, and regular running sessions! If you would like any information about our events, have a look at the events pages.

Information for families

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.

Information for dog owners

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.

Contact us

Where is it?

  • Lat/lng: 51.49040,0.23413
  • Postcode: RM19 1SZ
  • Grid reference: TQ552792
  • Nearest town: Purfleet, Essex
  • County: Greater London
  • Country: England

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School visits