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Nature Reserves in
the Lake District & Cumbria

On this page (click to see) – National Nature Reserves (NNR’s), Local Nature Reserves (LNR’s) in the Lake District & Cumbria

National Nature Reserves

Bassenthwaite Lake NNR –  5 km north of the town of Keswick, owned by the Lake District National Park Authority. The reserve has a range of habitats from open water to wet woodland and supports important collections of breeding and wintering birds.

Cliburn Moss NNR –  8 km south east of Penrith, a basin mire that supports an unusual range of fen, bog and heath communities with several rare and scarce plant species.

South Solway Mosses NNR –  20 km west of Carlisle on the Solway coast, a composite of three large lowland raised bogs.- also Drumburgh Moss NNR 1 km north west covers the major part of a raised mire system. The peat dome is still intact and has suffered only slight drainage.

North Walney NNR –  is a wild and windy coastal site featuring some nationally rare and important habitats such as sand dunes, dune heath, hay meadows, inter-tidal mud flats and salt marsh.(can only be accessed by pedestrians) – adjacent is Sandscale Haws NNR a mosaic of sand dunes, dune slacks, saltmarsh, shingle, grassland and freshwater marsh. There are also small areas of woodland and scrub. 7 km north of Barrow-in Furness

Whitbarrow NNR –  8 km south west of Kendal. The reserve lies on Whitbarrow Scar, a carboniferous limestone outcrop just over 200 m high – access to Wakebarrow Wood is limited to public rights of way.

There are more NNR’s in Cumbria see the Natural England website for more


Local Nature Reserves

Clints Quarry (CWT) – lies 1 mile north of Egremont – There is a circular route around the quarry (0.9km/0.6 miles) which has steps and some steep and exposed sections.

Dubwath Silver Meadows Wetland Nature Reserve – Bassenthwaite Lake – The Dubwath site is traditionally wet and regularly floods. Its peaty soils soak up water and then slowly release it, acting like a sponge.

Eskmeals Dunes (CWT) – Near Ravenglass – PLEASE RING THE GUN RANGE ON 01229 712200 BEFORE VISITING TO CHECK IF THE RESERVE IS OPEN. The public footpath leading to the reserve entrance can be very muddy and slippery. There are a number of un-marked paths around the reserve (circular walk 4km/2.5 miles)

Haweswater (RSPB) –  Penrith – The eagle viewpoint is open at all times but is only manned between April and August from 11 am-4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, plus bank holidays. Expert help will be on-hand to provide help with identification and show you close-up views of the eagle and other wildlife through telescopes, when the viewpoint is manned.

Hodbarrow (RSPB) – Millom – If you go for a stroll on the pushchair-friendly nature trail, look out for marsh and bee orchids adding colour to the flower-rich grasslands.

Humphrey Head (CWT) – Near Grange over Sands – The reserve is accessed directly from a public road. The walk to the highest point on the head and back is 2km/1.2 miles on grass with fairly small gradients. At low tide, it is possible to make this into a circular walk, via Humphrey Head Point and returning via the beach (2.9 km/ 1.8 miles), although this may involve crossing soft sediments in the channel just off the Point.

Kingmoor Nature Reserves –  Kingmoor is made up of four nature reserves, connected by good footpath links, offering a rewarding ‘countryside’ experience a mere stone throw from Carlisle city centre.

Leighton Moss (RSPB) –  Carnforth, Lancs – Leighton Moss is the largest reedbed in north-west England, and home to some really special birds such as breeding bitterns, bearded tits and marsh harriers.

Smardale Gill (CWT) – Near Kirkby Stephen – The reserve provides 6km/3.5 miles of level walking. The railway line does not have a consistent surface being grass on some sections and railway ballast/cinder on others. There are ramps at the Smardale Hall and Newbiggin end.

St Bees Head (RSPB) – Whitehaven –  walk along the cliff-top path to view the seabird colony, coastal flowers and butterflies

Wreay Woods (CWT) – Near Carlisle – The east side of the reserve is served by a public footpath which is unsurfaced and has some steep slopes with steps (1.2km/0.8 miles). The public footpath continues north along the river into Carlisle (6km/4 miles) and south to Wreay Village (1.2 km/0.8 miles).

Other sites

Haweswater – “The picturesque valley has a fascinating history and is home to some of the UK’s rarest and beautiful wildlife. England’s only golden eagle is found here, together with buzzards, peregrines, redstarts and dippers, to name but a few.”

Thirlmere – “The forests around Thirlmere are home to lots of fascinating native species, some of which are difficult to find in other places. . . Thirlmere is also a national Red Squirrel Reserve”

There are three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Cumbria – Arnside & Silverdale AONB,

North Pennines AONB and Solway Coast AONB

More information on nature reservs in the area is available from Cumbria Wildlife Trust (CWT),

Cumbria Wildlife, and Natural England

also see the Lake District Osprey Project website

National Nature Reserves (NNR’s), Local Nature Reserves (LNR’s)


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