Londoners will be pulling on waders, jumping into canoes and going on waterside walks this week as part of London Rivers Week, a free festival which flows from June 26 to July 2.
Many of the week’s activities are coordinated by Thames21, the waterways charity, whose chief executive Debbie Leach said, “Many of our rivers are great natural green spaces which can help Londoners ward off stress, obesity and social isolation.
“But too often they have been hidden behind buildings and fences, or even forced underground, making them hard to access.
“New river rewilding projects across the city, such as with the Wandle in Croydon, have removed some of these barriers, increased the amount and variety of plants on the river banks and created new community spaces. A total of 12 miles of river have been restored since 2008. In some cases, buried rivers have even been brought above ground again.”
London Rivers Week seeks to showcase some of these newly restored natural spaces and raises awareness about how they are vital for Londoners’ wellbeing. Environmental organisations including the Zoological Society of London, London Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, Thames Estuary Partnership and the South East Rivers Trust have all joined forces with Thames21 and are putting on free events during the week.
Highlights of London Rivers Week south of the Thames include:
An exhibition of rain gardens on the Wandle: Visit the Riverside Community Centre, Carshalton, and find out about the Wandle Rain Gardens project. Learn how to make your own garden and neighbourhood more resilient to climate change and to protect the River Wandle’s biodiversity too. June 27 2pm-7.30pm The Riverside Centre, 113 Culvers Avenue, Carshalton, SM5 2FJ
Discover the fish of the Wandle: This lovely section of the river contains barbell, chub and dace – will we find them? Wednesday June 28 11.30-2pm, River Wandle, Merton High Street, Colliers Wood, SW19 1DD
Wandle Mills Walk: Explore this river’s industrial heritage and follow it to the Thames at Wandsworth. Friday June 30, 10.30 -12.30pm, Earlsfield SW18 4SR
Discover the source of the River Wandle: Ever wondered where the River Wandle’s water comes from? This guided walk gives the lowdown on the source of the Wandle, past, present and future. Saturday July 1, 10.30 – 3pm, Carshalton Train Station, SM5 2HT
Kingston Wildlife Day: A range of walks and talks including a slow worm walk, dragonfly walk, small mammals talk and a walk along the Hogsmill river. Saturday July 1, 12-4pm. Tolworth Court Farm, LNR
The rewilding efforts benefit environment and communities, through projects such as Ladywell Fields in Lewisham, which took the River Ravensbourne out of its concrete channel and created new water meadows and enhanced the local park.
Sponsorship for Rivers Week has been provided by Thames Water, whose director Richard Aylard said: “Water is at the heart of the vital service we provide to customers across London, so we’re passionate about rivers and all they have to offer. We hope people will get behind London Rivers Week and make the most of the chance to try a new activity or simply relax and enjoy the waterways.”
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