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Out and About - Cumbria

[]Cumbria is predominantly rural and contains the Lake District, considered one of England's most outstanding areas of natural beauty.

A large area of the south east of the county is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Much of Cumbria is mountainous, and it contains every peak in England over 3,000 feet (910 m) above sea level, with Scafell Pike at 3,209 feet (978 m) being the highest point of England.

The northern part of Cumbria is the Solway Firth which forms part of the border between England and Scotland, between Cumbria (including the Solway Plain) and Dumfries and Galloway. It stretches from St Bees Head, just south of Whitehaven in Cumbria, to the Mull of Galloway, on the western end of Dumfries and Galloway.

The coastline is characterised by lowland hills and small mountains. It is a mainly rural area with fishing and hill farming (as well as some arable farming) still playing a large part in the local economy, although tourism is increasing.

The Solway Coast was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1964.

Here are some useful websites:

Bowness-on-Solway Nature Reserve

[]Bowness-on-Solway Nature Reserve is a little gem; it's just up the road from RSPB Campfield Marsh in the north of Cumbria next to Solway Firth.

It's an old gravel pit that has become a wonderful site for wildlife, despite its relatively small size. It's a series of small pits that have filled with water and scrub has grown around. Walk ways have been built, but it's not very accessible if you have mobility issues.

Saw some great insects here with Butterflies and Dragons on the wing, worthy of a visit.

Campfield Marsh Nature Reserve

[]Campfield Marsh Nature Reserve is in the north of Cumbria on the edge of the Solway Firth. It is made up of saltmarsh, peatbogs, farmland and wet grassland providing homes for a great variety of native wildlife. Trails lead to a wheelchair accessible hide looking out over the main wet grassland area where Waders such as Lapwings, Redshanks and Snipe breed in the summer and thousands of Swans, Ducks and Geese spend the winter.

There is also an accessible pond where you can do pond dipping and a great "Discovery Area" for the kids.

This a great reserve and I really enjoyed walking around here, I visited in the summer and can understand how large numbers of birds would be here in the winter with it being so close to the Solway Firth.

There are plenty of Wild Flowers, Butterflies, Dragonflies and other great Insects if you get bored with the birds.

Hodbarrow Point Reserve

[]The Hodbarrow Point Reserve, owned by the RSPB, is located between the coastal town of Millom and the village of Haverigg and is situated where the River Duddon meets the Irish Sea.

The area was once the site of one of the world's richest haematite iron ore mines. Today the mines are flooded and are home to a holiday village and water ski centre and the RSPB Nature reserve. All that remains of the iron works is the vast sea wall around the nature reserve.

Hodbarrow Lagoon is the largest stretch of coastal open water in north-west England. Large numbers of wading birds and waterfowl can be seen. Common, Sandwich and Little Terns can be sighted from the hide on the sea wall as well as other Water birds and Waders.

The hide is a bit bleak and looks a little un-welcoming but gives you some stunning views, but a bit too far to use a camera.

Apart from the Lagoon there are plenty of scrub and bushes, plenty of wild flowers and insects, so a great place to visit.

Walney Island

[]Walney lies off the south-west coast of Cumbria in the Irish Sea, at the western end of Morecambe Bay. It is eleven miles long from north to south, but never more than a mile wide from east to west, with spits at either end. The channel separating it from the Great Britain mainland is also narrow, and named Walney Channel. The northern portion of the channel opens into the Duddon Estuary and is both narrower and shallower. The southern half of the channel is wider and is regularly dredged to allow shipping to access the Port of Barrow. This half opens into Morecambe Bay and includes a number of small islands, of which Barrow Island, Roa and Piel are inhabited.

The island's northern and southern ends are both nature reserves, consisting of salt-marsh, shingle, sand dunes and brackish ponds. South Walney, in particular, is home to a wide number of birds, many of which use the island as stop whilst migrating. To the north, the island provides a habitat for Natterjack Toads, as well as the 'Walney Geranium', found only on the island. The island's west coast is characterised by wide sandy beaches, whilst its east coast is more built up, facing the narrow and muddy Walney Channel.

Since 2005, the coast off Walney has become a centre for the construction of offshore wind farms. In total, four wind-farms have been built or are under construction off the island's west coast with a total of just under 300 turbines.

I would say at this point I wasted a lot of time searching for the reserves especially the northern one and would recommend a local map as there was very few if no signs or directions from the main road.

Here are some useful websites:

© Simon Thurgood 2019
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