Back to reserve map

Drumburgh Moss

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.

Watch a short film about Drumburgh Moss Nature Reserve    Play button


  • 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.

Other residents

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.

Getting here

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.

Species and habitats

Emperor Moth, Curlew, Adder, Round-leaved Sundew, Short-eared Owl

Nearby nature reserves

Bowness on Solway
4 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Orton Moss
6 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Gosling Sike
10 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Near Drumburgh village
Drumburgh Village
Map reference
NY 255 586
Great for...
getting away from it all
lichens and mosses
Best time to visit
Apr - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
121.50 hectares
National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
Level and usually dry path to the viewing platform. Other paths are very wet and uneven. Adders and ticks are present on the site.
Walking information
An 800m waymarked route across usually dry and level ground leads to a raised platform. A circular route from Moss Cottage onto the moss, then to Whiteholme and back using the public footpath is approximately 3.2 km/2 miles. Wellington boots are essential!.
Park on roadside past Moss Cottage. Please ensure your vehicle does not obstruct access as the track is in constant use.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Ponies and longhorn cattle
Reserve manager
Kevin Scott
Tel: 01228 829570