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Argill Woods

A tranquil steep sided wooded valley with waterfalls and pools where dippers and pied flycatchers can be seen. Spring flowers carpet the woodland floor whilst species rich meadows provide a habitat for orchids and melancholy thistle.


  • Bluebells and other flowers carpet the woodland floor in the spring
  • Summer is a good time to find orchids and the lovely melancholy thistle.
  • In autumn flocks of long tailed tits flit around the trees
  • Throughout the year keep an eye out for red squirrels 


Argill Woods is a good place to compare trees and plants growing on different soil types. On the limestone soils you will find  ash and birch woodland along with wild garlic and dog's mercury. On the more neutral soils, oak and birch are the main tree species with bluebell and wood sorrel.

Homes for birds

Mature trees provide food and nesting places for a variety of birds such as greater spotted woodpecker, spotted and pied flycatcher, nuthatch, tree creeper, redstart and numerous species of tit. Dead wood is an important here as many creatures, such as beetles, woodlice and flies, need it for food and shelter.  These in turn provide rich pickings for birds and other animals to eat.


Between the areas of woodland, clearings of species rich grassland come alive in summer with wildflowers.  Look out for the handsome melancholy thistle and orchids such as greater butterfly orchid, fragrant orchid and common and heath spotted orchids.

Waterfalls and pools

Over many millennia Argill Beck has carved this steep-sided valley as it winds its way from Stainmore to the River Eden 12km to the west.  Around the pools and waterfalls you can see dippers and grey wagtails feeding in the clear water.  Numerous springs join the beck through wet flushes where water mint, marsh valerian and angelica can be seen.

Industrial History

The steep, inaccessible nature of Argill Woods mean that parts of the nature reserve have probably been wooded since medieval times providing a sanctuary for woodland plants and animals. Despite its inaccessibility, small-scale coal mining took place on the site in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and evidence of this can still be seen on the nature reserve.

Keeping it special

Argill Woods was purchased in two parts in 1984 and 1986 with grant aid from the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the Countryside Commission and donations from Trust members. The Trust manages the meadow areas with a combination of cutting and grazing, whilst keeping livestock out of the woodland to promote woodland regeneration.

Getting here

By car: From the A66 look for a turn signposted Hard Hills which takes you onto the old A66 road. Park in layby on left hand side and continue on foot. After 500m take the public footpath down the farm track on the left hand side signed to Dyke House and Argill Beck.

By bicycle:The reserve is 1km/0.5 miles from National Route 71 (Walney to Wear).

By public transport: Buses run from Ravenstonedale and Kirkby Stephen to North Stainmore.  

Nature Reserves Guide

Cumbria Wildlife Trust's Nature Reserve Guide, which provides information about all the Trust's reserves is available to buy now from our online shop.

Information for dog owners

Nearby nature reserves

Augill Pasture
2 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Waitby Greenriggs
6 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Hannah's Meadow
7 miles - Durham Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Near Brough
Map reference
NY 839 139
Great for...
getting away from it all
spring flowers
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
7.40 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Terrain is steep and often muddy. The path has some steps and stiles in places.
Walking information
There is a circular path around the reserve (1.6 km/1 mile) linking the two public footpaths which cross the reserve.
On the old A66, park in layby on left hand side and continue on foot. After 500m take the public footpath down the farm track on the left hand side to Dyke House and Argill Beck
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Cattle grazing at times
Reserve manager
Andrew Walter
Tel: 01539 816300