Thames Gateway Natural Environment

Explore the natural environment of the Thames Gateway

5 of the best places to be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the Thames Gateway and discover the wonderful wildlife

Rainham Marshes

The former Ministry of Defence site at Rainham Marshes, blends the military heritage of the area with a nationally important wildlife reserve, creating a unique haven for birds of prey. Enjoy it all from the new eco friendly RSPB visitor centre at Rainham Marshes which, together with Wennington Marshes and Aveley Marshes, offers the largest spread of wetlands in the Thames Estuary.

Langdon Nature Reserve

Just outside Basildon is the Essex Wildlife Trust’s biggest inland reserve. Its 461 acres of flower meadows, ponds and woodlands are home to an abundance of wildlife, including 29 species of butterfly and all three species of woodpecker. The visitor centre holds regular events, such as family fun days, nature walks and night time badger watches.

Vange Marshes

Under the care of the RSPB this area is made up of saltwater and freshwater lagoons attracting birds such as terns, avocets, redshanks and plovers. The area is carefully managed and water levels are raised in winter to control vegetation and attract wintering birds. Vange Marshes has a year-round programme of activities such as guided walks and nest box making.

Lee Valley Regional Park

This immense park includes marshes, meadows, reservoirs, nature reserves and leisure complexes. One key spot within the valley is the River Lee Country Park, which covers 1,000 acres on either side of the Lee River. Its lakes, waterways, green open spaces and countryside areas are all linked together by paths, walkways and cycle tracks. At Broxbourne you can visit the Old Mill and rent bicycles.

Elmley Marshes

This vast marshland is a fabulous natural habitat for all kinds of wildlife. In the colder months, wildfowl use the marshes and waders come here for safe roosting and in the warmer part of the year redshanks, lapwings and avocets breed here. The area is pushchair-friendly, so it’s a great place for children of all sizes to get close to nature.