Reimagine the wonder of wetlands this summer

At WWT we understand the way art can connect us with nature. For our founder, Sir Peter Scott, the two were inextricably linked. When Scott wasn’t out on the reserve at WWT Slimbridge he could be found in his studio painting the birds he’d seen. For him it was a way to connect even more deeply with the wildlife he loved.

This summer we’re reimagining the wetland and art connection with a special partnership with one of the UK’s best loved illustrators, Quentin Blake, who himself declares a life-long love of drawing birds (who can forget the magical Roly-Poly Bird). As part of Drawn to Water we’ll be working with local artists at our centres. So visit our wetland sites this summer, slow down, take in the beauty of your surroundings and discover your own connection with nature through art.

Quentin Blake seasonal guides

At all our sites this summer you can journey around our wonderful wetland world using a specially illustrated guide full of Quentin Blake’s drawings. With his inspiring work to hand you’ll see the landscape in a new light. The guide showcases some of the best seasonal highlights to find this summer and allows you to get closer to nature than ever before, experience incredible views, encounter wildlife up close and create amazing memories. There’s also a bookmark to pull out and keep and two more trails launched in the autumn and winter, each with a different bookmark inside so you can collect all three.

Quentin Blake personal exhibition

Enjoy a unique opportunity to explore some lesser-known works from Quentin’s personal archive, at our touring exhibition, now on display (until 14 July) at WWT London. The exhibition of 54 of Quentin Blake’s wetland-themed prints provides a unique glimpse into his passion for wetlands and wildlife. Discover the beautiful illustrations on display using everything from pens, inks and washes to quills from the birds he has illustrated to help bring their subjects to life, all rendered in Quentin’s iconic style. Catch the exhibition at WWT Slimbridge 21 July – 16 Sep and then at WWT Castle Espie and WWT Martin Mere this autumn/winter.

Inspired by your visit? Come and visit the art hub and visitor gallery at WWT London, a lovely creative space to draw and display your own artwork.

Window to our wetlands

When you’ve had a busy time enjoying all there is to do at WWT Arundel, from our daily pelican talks to boat safaris and art workshops, enjoy a moment of stillness and reflection among the wetlands. This beautiful willow sphere sculpture, created by a local environmental artist, is the perfect place to take it all in. With views over the surrounding reed beds and across our stunning reserve out towards Arundel Castle.

Framing nature

Our seasonal trails wind around the stunning wetlands at WWT Caerlaverock and this summer they’re showcasing the best that wetland nature has to offer. You can choose from a number of walks, from shore-side to woodland. Sweep through flower-filled meadows, past wild orchids and orange-tipped butterflies and breathe in the tranquillity as you go. If you find the wetlands as inspirational as we do you can put your artistic skills to the test with the viewing frames you’ll spot around the site. We’ve picked the areas we think will take your breath away, so take some photos of our stunning wetlands using the frames and then join us to create a watercolour landscape scene from your favourite photo. (On Wednesdays & weekends from 11-4)

Artist-led workshops

As well as our Drawn to Water illustrated guides to help you explore our sites and the touring art exhibition, we’re holding art-based activities throughout the summer at our centres. Many of these are led by local artists, who know and understand the landscape. The workshops, ranging from pottery at WWT Castle Espie to botanical painting at WWT Slimbridge, are a great way to have a go at something new or get some top tips on how to improve your work. The workshops are designed to spark the imaginations of all ages and abilities. Check out our What’s On pages to find out more about the workshops being held at specific centres.

Expert walks

Venture out into the wetlands with our friendly experts by your side, they’ll help you spot some of the season's best highlights at WWT Llanelli. This month we’ll be looking out for different types of bees and other wetland pollinators, and you’ll discover more about some of the beautiful native flowers they like to visit. It’s the perfect opportunity to get insider wildlife tips and your questions answered. Our walks with a warden are suitable for everyone. We follow even, accessible paths and tailor each walk to the group on the day. There’s lots to explore whatever the weather. June’s walk.

Photography tours

If you’re a keen wildlife photographer you won’t want to miss the opportunity to join our senior reserve warden on a tour of the areas of WWT Slimbridge that are usually left undisturbed by visitors. It’s your opportunity to get some great shots of wildlife that few get to see.

Why not make a day out of it and take a walk down the summer walkway to the banks of the stunning Severn estuary? Sometimes it's easy to forget that it’s the second biggest tidal river in the world. From its deepest mud flats to its tide lines, the river defines Slimbridge and the species we attract to our beautiful reserves. If you haven't yet been down the summer walkway and marvelled at the sheer power of the river, it's time to put it on your bucket list.

Pick up a paddle

Whether you’re looking for a way to get really close to nature or just to have a bit of fun with friends and family, canoeing is the way to do it. At WWT Martin Mere you can paddle in safety and style with our award-winning kilometre-long Canadian canoe trail. Relax as you drift gently through the reeds and keep a look out for water voles, kingfishers, dragonflies and butterflies. You can also pick up a canoe at WWT Slimbridge, and during the summer holidays at WWT Llanelli, whilst at WWT Arundel our boat safaris are very popular. You’ll be sure to experience new and amazing wildlife on every visit.

Wonderful wetland wildlife

Wetlands are home to lots of animals, not just birds! This summer you can see everything from dragonflies and amphibians to otters and harvest mice at our centres. Join us at WWT Washington for our flamingo and otter talks. Enjoy watching our cheeky otter family Musa, Mimi and Buster forage and swim while you discover all about their lives and habits. You can also see flamingos at WWT Llanelli, WWT Slimbridge and WWT Martin Mere and otters at WWT London and WWT Martin Mere.

Nature by night

We love this time of year, the longer evenings make it the perfect time to head out on the reserve at WWT Welney and get a closer look at what our nocturnal wildlife are up to. Barn owls hunt in the vast openness of the Fen landscape, and watching them emerge over the wet grasslands as the light fades is a wonderful sight. Eight species of bat use our reserve to hunt, darting after the insects still buzzing around after the warmth of the day. So join us for one of our monthly dusk events this summer, you really don’t want to miss out.

Find out more about Drawn to Water: Quentin Blake at WWT

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