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Wilderness Island

An enticing nature trail between two babbling arms of the River Wandle.

Follow our enticing nature trail between two babbling arms of the River Wandle through fruit trees and crack willow to a vibrant meadow.

A fascinating variety of habitats can be seen in this site, ranging from ponds and wetlands to woods and wildflower meadows.

The woodlands provide a valuable habitat for many species of birds and invertebrates.

You can see all three species of woodpecker - but only great spotted breeds regularly. In summer, you may hear warblers such as blackcap and chiffchaff singing, and they often stay to breed.

A black poplar tree grows here, which supports a rare moth - the hornet clearwing. Several species of butterfly can also be seen, including speckled wood, holly blue and comma.

The ponds are an important feature of the island and they have been colonised by a wide variety of wetland plants, including water plantain, yellow flag, reedmace and water crowfoot. Frogs use the ponds to lay their spawn, and dragonflies and damselflies often hunt here in summer.

The river supports good numbers of waterway birds for an urban river, particularly moorhens. You may see little grebes hiding close to the bank while you may see grey wagtails near the weir where they have bred.

And if you're very lucky, you may see the blue flash of a kingfisher flying past.

The meadows are rich in both invertebrate and meadow flower species.

Here, you can see the small lilac flowers of vervain, a rare species to find in London.

If you look closely you may see the brightly coloured small copper butterfly among the more plentiful skippers and meadow brown.

You may also hear the crackle of Roesel's bush cricket, which has been likened to an electrical discharge.


Habitats you'll see

Woodland, river, pond and meadow


Species you might spot

Woodpeckers, kingfisher and grebes; black poplar; hornet clearwing moth, speckled wood butterfly, holly blue butterfly and comma butterfly; water-plantain, yellow flag, great reedmace and water crowfoot;

Roesel's bush cricket. 

If you spot these or any other species, please submit your wildlife sightings to Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL) to help build a picture of London's nature!


Visit us

The entrance is at the junction of Mill Lane/River Gardens and Strawberry Lane in Carshalton.


Open at all times.

Read about our nature trail that runs throughout our nature reserve here.


Get involved

Search for volunteering sessions at Wilderness Island on the south London volunteering page.


Site status

Site of Metropolitan Importance; Local Nature Reserve




Species and habitats

Meadow, Standing water, Woodland

Nearby nature reserves

Spencer Road Wetlands
1 miles - London Wildlife Trust
Howell Hill
3 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust
Priest Hill
4 miles - Surrey Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Mill Lane, Hackbridge
Greater London
Map reference
Best time to visit
Apr - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times

Public footpaths around the reserve, but the terrain is difficult in places. No wheelchair access available.
Walking information
No wheelchair access.
Local street level parking, but restrictions in some areas.
Dogs allowed
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Derek Coleman
Tel: 020 8669 7421