Foulshaw Moss in Cumbria, England - June 2013
I had decided to visit this reserve simply because of the fact I had read it was great for reptiles and birds such as Hobby, Cuckoo, Osprey and more importantly for me Tree Pipit were seen. I did manage to see Emperor Dragonflies, Tree Pipit, Osprey, 2 Slowworms, a family of Chiffchaff and my first ever Common Lizard. I missed an Otter sighting by a second! Sadly we did not give the reserve enough time as it deserved but like any other bog or mossland it was fascinating to visit. I would recommend visiting here if within the area. Bogs and Mosses are a very important eco-system and one full of rare and unusual plants and wildlife. I loved the strange look of the landscape. The cotton grass was in bloom in some portions of the reserve giving it a strangely vibrant look.
Bog vegetation is steadily re establishing on this restored raised mire. Wetlands created are home to several species of dragonflies and butterflies and moths abound in the summer.
What is happening at Foulshaw Moss?
This nature reserve is an internationally rare lowland raised peatbog. High and stable water levels are essential to the health and long term future of the bog. Unfortunately this bog has suffered in the past from a steady lowering of water levels and a gradual deterioration of the peatland and its wildlife.
In partnership with Natural England, the Trust is currently carrying out significant habitat restoration works which aim to raise water levels and secure the long term future of Foulshaw Moss. Over recent months, conifer trees have been removed from around the edges as they have served to dry the peat and excavators are now working to block drains and create small low bunds that retain water on the bog.
Rising water levels and working machinery may disrupt car parking and access arrangements onto and around the Moss in the coming months. We have not replaced the boardwalk for instance as water levels are already affecting a planned replacement. We will however, endeavour to maintain normal access onto the reserve where possible while the restoration works progress.
Following the completion of restoration works, improvements to parking and access will be made, with new walkways and signage planned. Thanks for your patience and understanding and we hope you enjoy your visit to this wonderful and unusual nature reserve!
Foulshaw Moss is the largest of three raised mires making up the Witherslack Mosses. Over thousands of years, a layer of peat up to six metres deep has built up, making Foulshaw Moss higher than the surrounding land. Drainage around the moss has made the moss drier than it would naturally be and drainage and tree planting on the moss itself in the 1950s and 1960s has further reduced the water table. This means that the characteristic bog vegetation of Sphagnum moss, cotton grass, cranberry and bog rosemary is only present in small areas rather than covering the site. Since acquisition in 1998, the Trust has been working towards restoring the mire by felling conifers, blocking internal ditches and re-wetting areas of surrounding land.
What to see
A large herd of red deer frequent the moss and in summer common lizards can be seen. Adder and slow worm may occasionally be encountered. Breeding birds include tree pipit, reed bunting, snipe and barn owl. Emperor and northern eggar moth, and large heath and green hairstreak butterflies can be seen on the areas of remnant bog vegetation at the northern end of the site. There is also a pond here where a number of different dragonflies including the emperor may be seen.
Foulshaw Moss was purchased in 1998 with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Since then, a number of additional areas have been acquired.
Near Witherslack, Cumbria
Map referenceSD 458 837
Great for...birdwatching, butterflies
Best time to visitApr - Aug
Open at all times
Travelling west along A590 towards Barrow in Furness, at the end of the dual carriageway at Gilpin Bridge, continue for 1km/0.6 miles. Immediately before a signed parking layby on the west-bound carriageway turn left down a track . Go through the gate and continue until a small car parking area is reached. Travelling east on the A590 towards Kendal, pass the junction for Witherslack and continue for 0.6km/0.4 miles. The track to the reserve is on the right immediately after the parking layby. Please take care when turning into the reserve from this direction, as the road can be extremely busy. By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 (Walney to Wear).
By public transport: Buses run from Barrow in Furness, Ulverston, Newby Bridge, Grange over Sands and Kendal to Witherslack
From the car park there is a circular walk which crosses one of the better areas of remnant vegetation on boardwalk to a viewing platform and then uses the main track to return (0.8km/0.5 miles). Take care!. Please keep to waymarked paths and trails. The ground off the path is very soft and there are areas of deep water. Ticks and adders are present on the reserve in large numbers. The Trust is currently upgrading access on the reserve and further trails will become available in due course.ParkingSmall parking area on siteDogsDogs must be on leadGrazing animalsCattle at times
Tel: 01539 816300