Red squirrels

Red squirrel at Smardale Gill Nature Reserve.Red squirrel at Smardale Gill Nature Reserve.

Red squirrels, at one time, could be found all over Great Britain but can now only be seen in wooded areas throughout the north of England, western Wales and in many parts of Scotland. They are also found on Angelsey, the Isle of Wight, Brownsea Island and in Thetford Forest in Norfolk.

Red squirrels have been found in England since the end of the last Ice Age and are part of our native fauna. The non-native grey squirrel was introduced to England in the late 1870s from America and is the primary cause of decline of the red squirrel. It does so by out-competing red squirrels for food in deciduous and mixed woodlands and transmitting a virus, the squirrel poxvirus, that is lethal to red squirrels.

If you are walking in woods in Cumbria keep your eyes peeled for both red and grey squirrels. It is quite easy to tell them apart - but don't rely on the coat colour. The reds are considerably smaller and often have long tufts to their ears. Greys always have small, rounded ears and have white hairs along the edge of the tail, giving the tail a halo. 

If you see a squirrel, please inform Red Squirrels Northern England. Your sightings are very valuable in monitoring the up-to-date locations of red squirrels and the spread of grey squirrels.

Below are some places where you can go and spot a red squirrel for yourself, more locations can be found here.

Forestry Commission Dodd Wood Keswick

Parking at NY235281 (Pay and Display) adjacent to the Old Sawmill Tearoom
Take the path uphill along the southern side the stream and follow straight on at all junctions to the Osprey Viewpoint. Red Squirrels are seen on the bird feeders just below the viewing platform

Forestry Commission Whinlatter Forest Park Keswick

Park at the pay and display car park at the visitor centre and tearoom. There is a red squirrel display in the visitor centre with CCTV link to the red squirrel feeder. Red Squirrels can also be seen within the forest on any of the forest walks.

Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Footpath

Park at either Keswick Spa NY270238 or Threlkeld NY 315247 (roadside verges). There are red squirrel feeders at the Threlkeld end of the footpath but squirrels present in woodland along the length of the footpath.

Greystoke Forest, Penrith

Park at NY403347. There are various forest walks through the forest.

The Westmorland Red Squirrel Society are a group of local volunteers who share an interest in the conservation of our native red squirrels in the South Cumbria area.

One way you can help to save the red squirrel

Together with the Furness Building Society, we have a charity account that raises money towards work to help save the red squirrel.

Each year, the Furness Building Society makes a cash payment equal to 1% gross interest on the average total balance held in all of the Save the Red Squirrel charity accounts. 

Please will you consider opening an account? It doesn’t cost you anything and generates money vital to enable our work to protect red squirrels in northern England to continue.

Don’t have a Furness Building Society near you? Please don’t let that stop you.

With Internet banking, you can now open an account on-line. Or you can phone 0800 834 312 to speak to a person.

Since the start of their support, the Furness Building Society has made donations totalling £173,035.07. If you open a Red Squirrel account charity account, you will help to make this even more (and be squirreling your money away too!). 


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