Walthamstow Wetlands is set to open to the public next week after a project years in the making to turn the area into a nature reserve.

The £8 million project will allow cyclists, bird watchers, anglers and ramblers free access to one of London’s largest open spaces from Friday, October 20.

Work to open the site to the public, which finally got underway in 2015 after years of talks between Waltham Forest Council and landowners Thames Water, has taken around 18 months to complete.

Richard Aylard, Director of External Affairs and Sustainability at Thames Water, said: “Walthamstow Wetlands is an enthralling part of London’s industrial heritage but remains a vital modern resource, supplying millions of Londoners with high-quality drinking water every day.

“‘It is great that the site is now being opened up so that local people and other visitors can enjoy this special place for nature and relaxation, while also learning more about where their water comes from.”

The wetlands are an operational water supply site for Thames Water, with ten reservoirs capable of holding up to a third of the capital’s tap water.

A designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the site is also home to London’s largest heronry and commercial fishery.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The reservoirs can supply drinking water to 3.5 million Londoners per day 

Two historic buildings have been renovated as part of the project.

The locally-listed Engine House, originally built in 1885, has been transformed into a visitor centre, café and education space with a special tower for nesting swifts and roosting bats.

The Grade II listed Coppermill Tower has an accessible viewing platform overlooking the Wetlands, with views of the City of London.

Leader of Waltham Forest Council, Cllr Clare Coghill, said: “We feel very fortunate to have this fantastic oasis on our doorstep and are so pleased that members of the public are now able to experience this fantastic open space in urban London.

“This gives Londoners and other visitors an opportunity to leave the daily stress of the city behind and enjoy this unspoilt open space.”

For more information, visit: walthamstowwetlands.com.