Rough fell, grassland, wetland and wooded areas provide a diverse habitat where dragonflies, damselflies and the rare high brown fritillary butterfly abound.
- In spring time see bluebells and other flowers carpetting the woodland floor and hear birds such as chiff chaff and blackcap.
- In summer watch dragonflies and damselflies darting over the pond and butterflies such as high brown fritillary flitting about.
- In autumn look out for wax cap fungi in the open fell area.
- Winter is a chance to get good views of woodland birds.
A diversity of habitats in a lovely setting
For a relatively small area, Barkbooth Lot packs a lot in! Open fell land, with a mix of rough grassland, bracken and scrub and two small tarns, contrasts with the oak woodland. There is a meadow to visit and a small area of larch plantation. On a clear day from the highest point you can get magnificent views of both the Lakeland fells and Morecambe Bay. A visit here is always rewarding as the range of habitats means there is a huge diversity of species to discover.
Butterflies around the bracken
Walk through the rough grassland areas and look out for the rare high brown fritillary butterfly. The combination of bracken and violets growing here provide ideal breeding conditions for this species, as well as the more widespread dark-green fritillary butterfly. You may also see other butterflies such as the pearl-bordered and small pearl-bordered fritillaries, orange tip, meadow brown and small heath.
Wildlife around the tarns
The tarns on Barkbooth Lot are great places to spot damselflies and dragonflies. Look out for the downy emerald dragonfly, the emperor, four-spotted chaser and golden banded dragonflies and the common and black darters. You may also see the common blue, azure and large red damselflies. Have a look for the beautiful demoiselle damselfly flitting over bankside vegetation around Arndale Beck. Beware near the tarn however as the rare medicinal leech lives here! Glow worms are also found in the grassland.
The woodland provides a wonderful contrast to the open habitats of the rough fell land, with incredible carpets of bluebells in the spring and the dark shade of closed canopy woodland in the summer. Oak and birch are the most common species along with ash, rowan and sycamore. On the woodland floor you will find bluebells and bracken, with bilberry dominating in places. Alder dominates the wetter areas and along the course of Arndale Beck that flows through the southwest corner of the reserve. The wood is now fenced to deer to try and allow natural regeneration in the many gaps created by windblown trees. Dead wood, both fallen and standing, is purposefully left to create habitat for many species of invertebrates as well as birds.
Alive with birds
In spring the woodland and scrub areas are alive with the sound of willow warblers, chiff chaff, garden warblers and blackcaps. You may also hear greater-spotted woodpeckers and green woodpeckers or spot a nuthatch. Look out for hawfinches which are regularly seen on the woodland edge. Keep an eye open also for buzzard and sparrowhawks. The combination of rough grassland and scrub provide excellent breeding habitat for many scrubland bird species such as whitethroat, willow warbler, redstart, tree pipit and yellowhammer.
Although Barkbooth Lot does not have any particular rare plant species, the species-rich acid grassland is a rare treat and you may come across northern marsh-orchid, moonwort and adder’s-tongue fern.
Meadow and plantation
Howbarrow Meadow, a small, enclosed area of grassland to the north of Barkbooth Lot, on the other side of the road, was acquired by the Trust in 2004. This will be gradually restored to a species-rich grassland with appropriate management. Sandy Hill is a small area of plantation woodland that abuts the road between where the two parts of the reserve meet and there is a small pond at this point. This provides a perfect entrance on to each side of the reserve.
Keeping it special
Barkbooth Lot was given to the Trust in 1975 by Mrs Sheila Caldwell. Howbarrow Meadow was given in 2004 by Mrs Helen Caldwell. The Trust purchased part of Low Fell Plantation in 2007, the remainder is leased from the John and Barbara Handley. Sandy Hill is leased by the Trust from Crosthwaite and Lythe Parish Council. The site is grazed by cattle to prevent the bracken becoming too dense.
By car: From Bowness-on-Windermere take the A5074 towards Crosthwaite. South of Winster, just after the Damson Dene Hotel, take a sharp right hand turn and follow this minor road for 0.8km/0.5 miles. Park in the layby on the left-hand side of the road at the nature reserve entrance.
By bicycle:The reserve is 8km/5 miles from Regional Route 32.
By public transport: Buses run from Kendal to Crosthwaite
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.