Just a small selection of the many local nature reserves.
South Walney is a well known its Seal colony.
Coastlines can come and go with changes in tides and
Winds. The National Trust nature reserve at Sandscale
Haws is a growing landscape; sand is deposited on the
shore and is blown into a broad ridge of spectacular
dunes. Behind these ‘yellow dunes’ are slacks or marshy
hollows and a series of more stable ‘grey dunes’. The
mix of wildlife habitats is unique. Flowers abound,
including specialities like the dune pansy, sea holly and
sea bindweed. In the spring, pools of water in the slacks
are the breeding sites of natterjack toads and great
crested newts, and in the summer when the slacks dry
out there are drifts of marsh orchids and clouds of
blue butterflies. It is possible to walk from the Trust car
park at the end of Hawthwaite Lane to the shore, then
along the beach south to Lousy Point. There are fine
views across Duddon Sands to the Lakeland hills, and
over to Walney Island. The tidal saltmarshes are the
feeding grounds of migrant wading birds and wintering
sea-duck. From Lousy Point there are several paths
leading through the dunes back to the car park, shop
On the tip of Walney Island. This is a National Nature Reserve
Mudflats and saltings,shingle ridges, grey dunes and heathland, slacks and old gravel workings make up the wildlife habitats of North Walney. Again this is a place for special flowers able to cope with hot sunshine and biting winds.
Specialities of the dry dunes include sea spurge and sea holly, the scented burnet-rose and the unique Walney geranium,
a variety of bloody cranesbill. Because the dune slopes
create their own sun-soaked micro-climate they attract
a range of fascinating insects, including robber-flies and
sand wasps, fox-moths and grayling butterflies.
The salt-marsh is carpeted by drifts of sea lavender and
thrift, and in the winter it is the haunt of wading birds such
as the redshank, dunlin, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit.
This important reserve, managed by the Cumbria
Wildlife Trust, makes up the southern spur of Walney
Island and includes a variety of habitats such as mudflats
and sand dunes, saltmarshes and saline lagoons. The
reserve is famous for breeding, wintering and migrating
birds. In the summer there are huge colonies of lesser
black-back and herring gulls; South Walney is also the
most southerly breeding site of the eider duck. Autumn
migration time sees the arrival of wind blown migrants
from America, North Africa or even Siberia. Anything
from a black stork to a paddyfield warbler. And winter is
the season for sea-duck and flocks of waders, roosting
and feeding on the saltings.
Many of the older buildings in Barrow are built of
St Bees sandstone won from Ormsgill Quarry. The
site is now an attractive local feature providing
a panoramic viewpoint over the town and the
Cumbrian coast. Birds such as kestrels and barn
owls have been recorded from the quarry and at
the southern end of the site there is a fragment of
woodland with wych elm and sycamore.
A path crosses Hawcoat Fields and goes through
Ormsgill Quarry, linking into Schneider Road.
A short way to the south you will find Ormsgill
Reservoir. This is a well-known refuge for waterbirds;
in the winter the old reservoir attracts flocks
of pochard, tufted duck and mergansers, and in
the summer there are nesting swans and grebes. A
path runs around the reed-lined shore.