Welcome to this guide of the Thames wilderness. There are lots of beautiful and fascinating wildlife habitats along this wonderful river from its source in Gloucestershire to the sea. The river runs through the most densely urban part of Britain, and yet it provides a large chain of green spaces across Southern England, allowing everyone access to conserved nature and wildlife. The passion and knowledge of members of the River Thames Society and Thames Rivers Trust have resulted in this Guide, highlighting places you can visit that are:
- open to the public;
- near the river or its tributaries; and
- managed for conservation and wildlife.
The sites are very varied and include:
- meadows rich in flowering plants, largely unchanged for centuries;
- lakes and reed-beds formed from gravel pits to attract hundreds of birds;
- parks with areas restored to wilderness status;
- former industrial sites returned to natural habitats;
- mudflats and marshes in the Thames Estuary; and
- the river itself changing in character along its 215 mile (344 Km) length.
Many places can be reached by the Thames Path (part of the wildlife corridor) or other riverside paths, and some by boat. We advise you to check with maps, handbooks and other websites before you visit each site. One of the best maps, for value and simplicity, is new: the AZ Adventure map for the Thames Path, published in 2013 by Geographers’ A-Z Co. Ltd., cost £7.95. This is based on Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 scale maps and is ideal for walking by the Thames.
We have written a book “Exploring the Thames Wilderness” about the project, with maps and suggested walks that visit groups of reserves. The book is published by Adlard Coles Nautical, part of Bloomsbury Publishing plc (ISBN 978-1-4081-8112-6) and costs £14.99 in most bookshops.
The chosen wildlife habitats are places where creatures and plants enjoy water and wet conditions, plus some with good views of the Thames that we love. We want to share with you the sense of green space and adventure that the river gives. Rejoice that so much of it is open to the public!