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Dipping in...

A look at where to go pond dipping in Southeast London

When it comes to family-time, we find that ideas come easy...the devil's in the details.

So, if you have the perfect pond dipping kit waiting in the wings, but are struggling for inspiration for where to use it, this post's for you...

Over the last couple Springs, our family has made great use of our pond dipping supplies...I can count about 10 times we've donned our wellies and waterproofs at various places around London and beyond. Here's a list of our favourite spots:

Wandle River

This river winds its way from Carshalton (nearish Morden) all the way up to the Thames in Wandsworth. Rumour has it that the river was once very polluted by all the mills which once graced its banks (William Morris's being one of them), but it now seems pristine and lovely based on the wildlife we've found there. Here are a few of our favourite spots along the Wandle's route for dipping...

1. Morden Hall (photo above): We grow more and more impressed with this location upon every visit--there's a beautiful Hall which is often rented out for weddings, but the park grounds are open to the public without an admission fee. They've recently completed a boardwalk through the marshlands (as shown in the background image at the top of this post), there's a perfect riverside picnic spot with a view of the Hall, a lovely playground and a cafe...what's not to love.

2. Wandle Park, Collier's Wood: There's a lovely little stream running through this pocket park nestled snuggly by the Collier's Wood stop on the Northern Line. At the moment, fairies are also living in the wood, see #fairiesofcollierswood for updates. We always tuck into the nearby 'Coffee in the Wood' for a peanut butter blondie and just about everything else on the menu--the staff are so uniquely smiley that they should win a happiness award.

Petts Wood (photo above)

We've written about the Petts Wood circular hike before...it's a longtime favourite for day hikes as it's along the train route from Herne Hill & West Dulwich. Along the hike, there are a couple great little streams for dipping...and boat racing, too. Though, perhaps not so pristine and clean as the Wandle (most probably due to the dogs who jump in for a swim on warm days), they slow-running streams are very easy access and are close to the pubs of Chiselhurst as a lunch spot-we typically go for 'The Crown' as there's a kiddie-friendly outdoor area and it's along a village green with ancient trees perfect for climbing. Fancy caving? Pencil that in, too...

Ladywell (photo above)

The little park tucked just behind Ladywell station has a seemingly pristine stream running through. At one spot, there's a cafe, playground and stream within 20 meters of each other--the perfect spot for stream dipping (and playing pooh sticks) on a bright sunny day. During our recent visit, we caught loads of freshwater shrimp--a first for our crew.

Centre for Wildlife Gardening (East Dulwich--photo above)

Don't have your own pond dipping kit? No problem--the folks at London Wildlife Trust's Centre for Wildlife Gardening have not only 4 ponds (with lots of newts!) to offer, but they're also willing to share nets, trays and critter identification guides. This is a lovely option for a sunny Sunday when nothing's in the diary.

Bumble Box subscribers received everything they need to go pond dipping as part our our 'Feeling Froggy' kit in May 2017. For those who don't subscribe--here's what to gather:

White tray or bowl (makes seeing the critters easier)

Aquarium net (or the long handled ones from the seaside will do)

Identification guide--the one from the FSC is our favourite

If you have a magnifying glass or magnifying square, these can be helpful to see your finds a bit more closely--these aren't essential.

Bumble Box kits are designed to bring families together. We catch animals' footprints in the sand, give the trees a shake to see what's living in there, host a Family Olympics, plant a fairy garden, race homemade boats in the stream...you get the drift. Together, we'll make it through your family-time bucket list.

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