The Moomins In Walthamstow Wetlands

“Not one adventure in a whole day. Just grey banks and grey banks and grey banks, and not even an adventure.”

It was an overcast and grey day sometime in July when we decided to go and visit the Moomins who have recently decided to take a vacation London and create their own little Moomin Trail.

Walthamstow Wetlands has created a Moominscape to celebrate Tove Jansson’s new exhibition – in the Wetlands Engine House and the surrounding land. This taps into the authors love of nature and her relationship with the creatures that dwell in it. The Walthamstow Wetlands is akin to her island Klovharun in the Gulf of Finland which the author has drawn great inspiration from both literally and figuratively.

Inside of the Engine House in Walthamstow you can view some of her Photos, Drawings and some writing about her love of her island. (We were unable to take any photos)

Outside however there is a bit more exploring to be done.

We were handed a map – under duress from the overly anal staff member – who wanted to know what we doing, where we from and what we intended to do with the information. Clearly this exhibition is high stakes and moomins need their own body guards.

We started at the Engine House / ‘Dragonfly Den’ where we hunted for Moomins – you would think they would be easy to spot – You would be wrong.

Buried far far from the trial in amongst some bushes leaning against a tree we spotted our first glimpse of the creatures – We assume it was Moominmama – although the map has no correlation to reality.

Before you wonder why we didn’t get any closer – all of these areas are cordoned off for wild flowers or in the case of one big section of the trail – indicated by the red bird. Is closed completely for the whole summer due to breeding of the local wildlife. We really do wonder why you put put some of the exhibition in a section that no one can view or get to, given that this breeding ground was in place long before this exhibit had been installed. So much so there is a gate and a sign warning of such – why would you use this section? You can see the beginning of the missing Moomins just behind the gate which is closed for the public.

We turned and headed round the other side of the map – round the lake to look for the footprints leading to the boat. Well we found the footprints – which were so subtle you would miss it, only on the edge of the path in stops and starts. But they lead to nothing.. the boat must have sunk?

We kept on – but managed to find a member of staff to ask where some of the missing Moomins were. We were told that the person who installed the exhibition never bothered looking at the map that had been made for them, instead put the cutouts where ever they wanted – Only that person knows where the missing Moomins are as the staff are still looking. So this was well thought through then.

We found this a bit further on – where no Moomins were marked – so we don’t know who this was supposed to be, was this the boat? or …. who knows?

There a brief interlude here as a ‘crazy’ man literally jumped out of the bushes screaming profanities and how everyone should die. Dressed in a cloth cap, horn rimmed glasses with a long braided chin beard tied in wire and thread – forming lump after lump of wiry hair, followed by a tweed suit and topped off with wellington boots. He ran off followed by a speeding golf cart filled with wetland staff and security, then more staff on foot, then two on bikes. If that wasn’t enough police equipped with body armor, tasers and truncheons running along behind. Then two Police helicopters went over head. We don’t know what happened to the man in question but it was certainly entertaining – more entertaining than this whole exhibition.

Anyway back to the cardboard – we wandered on and found ‘Stinky’ Hiding under a bird hut

At this point we gave up on the map – it makes no sense and nothing is where it is suppose to be. There was an unmarked Moomin going fishing?

We did walk further on and found Too-Ticky – a character based on Jansson’s partner – Tuulikki Pietilä.

We kept walking and by chance – looking around we spotted the Coppermill observation entrance and noticed Fillyjonk hiding in the corner of one of the arches and to the side a small illustration on the door – we had bikes so we couldn’t enter.

There may have been more Moomins inside but who would know?

Overall this wasn’t a wasted trip – we saw more of the Wetlands than we have before. Mostly because we were searching high and low. The reservoir was blocked off so the water doesn’t contract Covid – the signs literally said this.

As far as the Moomin Trail it was advertised as this…

Instead we saw small cardboard cut outs put wherever the installation person wanted – no rhyme nor reason. Some were hidden, some lost and some put in a section which was unreachable. This once again proved that no matter how much planning in put into anything one person can screw it up. We were disappointed and felt this was a severe case of false advertising.

Have you visited? What did you think? Leave us a comment letting us know if you found what we couldn’t.

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