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.
Where: South Cumbria
Main habitat: North Walney features a mosaic of nationally rare and important habitats, including ungrazed saltmarsh, vegetated shingle, inter-tidal mudflats and ‘scars’, hay meadows, sand dunes and dune heath.
Why visit: North Walney is one of the best coastal nature reserves in the country, retaining a real wilderness feel in a largely industrial local landscape. With stunning mountain and sea views, this is the place to stretch your legs and ‘get away from it all’ - and there’s always the chance you might spot some remarkable wildlife!
Star species: The reserve’s most famous resident is the noisy natterjack toad! One of the UK's rarest amphibians, it is only found at around 40 sites in England. These nocturnal amphibians are rarely seen, but during the spring mating season, males can often be heard calling at dusk. The reserve is also a real haven for birdlife. From breeding wildfowl, to wintering waders, birds of prey and passing migrants, the reserve provides year-round interest to any naturalist.
Access: The nature reserve can be accessed on foot from Earnse Bay and is approximately 1.2km north of the car park and facilities found there.
Due to the remote nature of the site, North Walney can only be accessed by pedestrians. We regret that there is no access for wheelchair users, mobility scooters or pushchairs.
A path directs visitors on a circular route through the reserve, taking in some of the best habitat and landscape features. A bench provides a well-earned resting spot half way along this route, and a chance to enjoy the impressive views.
Three coloured way-marked routes direct visitors on walks of varying lengths through the NNR. These walks aim to show off the best sights and sounds that North Walney has to offer, whilst guiding visitors safely around the nature reserve. You can download information leaflets for each of the three walks: wildflower walk: (380kb); freshwater walk: (319kb) and airfield / dispersal pad walk: (371kb). These leaflets will provide you with directions and detailed information about what can be seen during your walk.
A North Walney wildlife blog has been set up by local enthusiasts who love the nature reserve and visit on a regular basis. To find out more about recent sightings and news from the nature reserve, please visit their website: Wildlife on North Walney.
From 1 March through to 31 July, ground-nesting birds breed at North Walney. In order to minimise disturbance to these birds all members of the public are required to keep their dogs on a short lead (of no more than 2 metres) during these months, under the Countryside Rights of Way Act.
Other nearby attractions: Cumbria Wildlife Trust manages the nature reserve at South Walney, which is best known for its gull and eider duck breeding colonies. National Trust manage nearby Sandscale Hawes National Nature Reserve at Roanhead, which features easily accessible coastal habitats.
The nearby Dock Museum is also worth a visit. Overlooking Walney channel, this modern museum has been built over an original Victorian Graving Dock. It explores the history of Barrow-in-Furness, as well as featuring a varied events and exhibition programme.
There is no site office at North Walney. To contact site staff please use the following details:
Roudsea Wood NNR Base,
Fish House Lane,
Tel: 015395 31604
Other NNRs in the area