When reservoirs were built they may have appeared to be rather sterile and bland – giant concrete lined hollows filled with water. But the reservoirs near Finsbury Park, now known as Woodberry Wetlands, have become a place full of wildlife and surprising views.
Over the years their deep waters became silted up, forming shallower pools with channels and islands. Reed beds spread out from around the edges and they are so valuable for wildlife that they have been encouraged further with the planting of many more reeds.
Hedgerows and wild flower meadows add to the diversity of the landscape along with an orchard where traditional English fruit trees have been planted – apples, conference pears and victoria plums.
A woodland walk has been created and with such a variety of wet and dry lands there are many different species of birds that come here.
Common terns dart around in the sky, swooping low over people’s heads. Herons live here – with all the appearance of pre-historic creatures, they stand like statuettes beside the water, watching and waiting. And then they stretch out their enormous wings and lift themselves up in the sky.
Migrant birds return year after year from their wintering areas to breed here in summer and swans glide gracefully along New River which passes alongside the wetlands, with bushes tumbling down its banks onto water lilies floating in the water.
And as the sun sets the vast expanse of sky creates dramatic sunsets that are reflected in the water and bringing into sharp relief the outline of buildings in the distance.
It is time for bats, hidden away by day in the trees, to swoop and feed on the insects that fill the air.
Walk from Manor House
North London map