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What's wild and special about Penrith and the Borders

What's wild and special about Penrith and the Borders

Penrith and the Borders is the biggest constituency in Cumbria covering a vast array of nationally important habitats including blanket bogs, mires, lakes, heathland and flower-rich limestone grasslands. There are three red squirrel reserves at Greystoke, Whinfell and Kielder falling within the Penrith and the Borders constituency.

Limestone pavement
Limestone pavement was formed by glacial scouring during the last ice age. Cumbria holds a significant proportion of this globally scarce habitat which provides a home to rare and threatened species. It can be found on the limestone fells between Shap and Kirkby Stephen.

The limestone grasslands around Orton are home to a number of rare species restricted to the north of England, including the bird’s-eye primrose and the rigid buckler fern.

Blanket bogs
Blanket bogs are one of the most extensive habitats in Cumbria and the shallow slopes of the Pennines are particularly suited to its development.

Confined to areas of the world with a cool and humid climate, Cumbria holds a large proportion of this internationally rare habitat. As well as being home to a number of wet-loving species, the peat stores vast quantities of carbon that has built up over thousands of years.

Hay meadows
These increasingly rare habitats have declined nationally by 97% in the last 50 years and so the cluster of species-rich meadows that still exist around Orton are increasingly important. This habitat, formed by the traditional practice of hay making, can hold up to 50 plant species per square metre and is a vital feeding ground for birds such as the twite.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been working with farmers and smallholders to enhance, restore and manage flower-rich hay meadows using traditional practices to increase plant diversity.

Your Member of Parliament’s response to our four asks:

Conservative party logoResponse from Rory Stewart, Conservatives

Having had the chance to walk through nearly all 9 nature reserves in Penrith and The Border over the last five years, and on one occasion being lucky enough to receive a guided tour by Cumbria Wildlife Trust's local experts, I am very aware of the value of our local landscape and its rich biodiversity.

When tourism is now the largest sector of our local economy, it is clear that preserving and strengthening our areas of natural beauty makes good sense for economic reasons, as well as for ecological ones.

I am very keen to support local organisations in encouraging visitors to take the opportunity to improve their knowledge and appreciation of our natural environment, and I believe there is much more we could be doing to get local young people out into the countryside, and understanding and engaging with the landscape on their doorstep.

The Conservative Party's manifesto will be published very shortly, but I believe the progress the Government has made shows our commitment to protecting and promoting our natural environment for the present and for the future.

A vision for the Penrith and the Borders constituency

Your Wildlife Trust is developing two specific Living Landscape visions throughout your constituency.

Lakeland Living Landscape

Our Upland Wetlands project has been working in this area to restore degraded peat soils. Working in partnership with farmers, we have designed and delivered management plans for protecting our peatland habitats.

The Trust has successfully raised the funding to purchase Eycott Hill as a nature reserve. This precious upland site is being restored with the help of local volunteers, which will be a haven for wildlife with improved access. We will be working with Newton Rigg College to graze the site and use it for training agriculture students.

Orton and Howgill Fells Living Landscape
Smardale Gill National Nature Reserve is situated near Kirkby Stephen. The Trust manages this popular nature reserve to maintain the rich mixture of woodland and species-rich grassland for those enjoying a walk along the disused railway line that runs through the reserve.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves in the Penrith and the Borders constituency:

Argill Woods Nature Reserve

Augill Pasture Nature Reserve

Eycott Hill Nature Reserve

Newton Reigny Nature Reserve

Smardale Gill Nature Reserve

Tarn Sike Nature Reserve

Thacka Beck Nature Reserve

Waitby Greenriggs Nature Reserve