Drumburgh Moss National Nature Reserve is a site of international importance, dominated by an expanse of lowland raised mire, one of Western europes's most threatened habitats. Sphagnum moss, sundew and other bog-loving plants thrive in the wetlands that make up much of the terrain. Curlew and red grouse breed and adders and roe deer are seen.
- Take a walk to our new viewing platform for fantastic views across the mire to the hills beyond.
- In spring birds displaying and cotton grass flowering accross the mire.
- Bog plants such as bog rosemary, heather and cranberry are at their best.
- In autumn you may see short-eared owls hunting.
How the moss formed
Raised mires were formed following the last ice age when dead vegetation gradually in-filled a body of standing water forming peat which eventually became raised up above the surrounding land. Being raised, the bog surface gets all its moisture from rain water which is lacking in nutrients. The bog vegetation is largely made up of Sphagnum moss, of which 13 species have been recorded on the nature reserve. Sphagnum moss, is highly absorbent, and can hold large amounts of water acting like a giant sponge.
Working to restore the moss
Past drainage of the moss and surrounding farmland has meant that Drumburgh Moss is much drier than it would naturally be. The Trust has carried out extensive restoration works: blocking ditches, reprofiling peat faces and removal of trees and scrub all help to raise the water level so that the bog vegetation can start to regrow.
Not just Sphagnum
Sphagnum is not the only plant to be found. Drumburgh moss is home to a number of specialist bog plants. In spring, the moss is a profusion of the white heads of cotton grass, dancing in the wind. In summer cranberry, bog rosemary and later heather are in flower. You can find all three species of sundew here including the scarce great sundew. Sundews have adapted to low nutrients of the bog by trapping and digesting flies on sticky filaments on their leaves.
Life on the wing
In spring you might be treated to breeding displays of curlew, skylark and reed buntings. Red grouse, redshank, snipe and grasshopper warbler also breed here. Autumn is a good time to spot short-eared owls quartering the moss. The nationally rare large heath butterfly is on the wing from June to August looking for cotton grass on which it lays its eggs. The pools near the nature reserve entrance are alive with dragonflies and damselflies during the summer months. In winter the nature reserve often hosts small numbers of geese from the huge flocks on the Solway.
Summer is the time to find adders and common lizards basking. At all times of year you might catch a glimpse of the shy roe deer and hares or perhaps a fox.
Keeping it special
Around the moss are areas of wet and dry heath, scrub and grassland which are managed by grazing. We use long horn cattle and hardy Exmoor ponies to keep the vegetation open. Drumburgh Moss is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is part of the South Solway Mosses Special Area of Conservation
The main nature reserve was purchased by Cumbria Wildlife Trust in 1981, however various extensions have been purchased since then.
By car: Drumburgh Moss is located immediatly south of Drumburgh village. On entering the village from the carlisle direction turn left by the post office. Follow the track for about 400m crossing the cattle grid and passing Moor cottage on the left.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 Hadrian's Cycleway.
By public transport: Buses run from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway and Anthorn.
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.