We hope to have a seal cam up and running again this year. If you spot anything whilst visiting the nature reserve we'd love to hear about your wildlife sightings and experiences in the comments area below or via Facebook or Twitter!
Best time to spot the grey seals
The best time to spot the seals is at high tide. View tide times During high tide the seals tend to play in the water in front of pier hide and tens of thousands of wader birds line the coast of the spit in winter.
South Walney Nature Reserve is home to the only grey seal colony in Cumbria. Another species of seal is the common seal however the common seal is generally found around the coasts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and eastern England.
Seal pups are incredibly vulnerable to disturbance, which would cause the mother to abandon it and the pup to starve. For this reason, there is strictly no access to the area of the nature reserve where the seal pup is, and so it is not possible to view the pup at South Walney Nature Reserve. However, the rest of the seals can be seen playing in the water at high tide, along with thousands of wintering wildfowl and wader birds, from hides elsewhere on the nature reserve.
Grey seal conservation
Grey seals suffered from severe persecution, their numbers dwindling as a result. Thankfully, grey seal populations have increased due to a ban on shooting and now the largest European population is found in the British Isles.
How you can help protect animals like the grey seals at South Walney Nature Reserve
Amazing to see the seals - couldn't believe our luck and how many there were! Can't wait to come back again… The Haywards
Although protected, they still suffer from illegal shooting, pollution and disturbance when breeding.
To help seals and other marine wildlife, The Wildlife Trusts are working with fishermen, researchers, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives.
This work has recently had a massive boost with the passing of the Marine Bill, promising sustainable development of the UK's marine environment.
Best time to visit South Walney Nature Reserve
During high tide
The best time to visit is during high tide however during very high tides (9.86m and above) or when there are strong winds, the road to/from the reserve can be cut off for a period of time. Generally throughout the year, high tide time is a great time to visit, an hour before high tide is best.
South Walney Nature Reserve is open daily 10am to 5pm (4pm in winter). The nature reserve gate is closed and locked shortly after closing time.
A great day out for the whole family
As well wildlife discoveries down one of the waymarked paths or through binoculars from one of the hides, children in particular will enjoy a hands-on experience of discovery in South Walney Nature Reserve's visitor centre.
Full of wonderful artifacts, shells and fossils collected from around the nature reserve the visitor cabin has recently been renovated by Reserve Manager Matthew Lipton and volunteers to create a fantastic learning experience for the whole family.
There is a small charge for entry onto the nature reserve to non-members. Members entry is free, non-members £3.00 for adults, £1.00 for children. If you are not a member, do consider joining us!
- Picnic facilities
- Disabled toilet
- Car parking on-site
- No dogs allowed
- Off road mobility tramper available for hire. A kind donation of £5 is appreciated for the use of the tramper. Please book in advance by calling the Reserve Officer on 01229 471066
Find out more about South Walney Nature Reserve and how you can be part of protecting this wild place
Probably the best reserve of all. Unique, quiet, fabulous flora and birds. Would love to return. A lovely and memorable day. Thanks. Peter & Terri
- More information about South Walney Nature Reserve
- Read blogs from our volunteers and The Living Seas team
- Keep up to date via Facebook or Twitter and join in the conversation using #SouthWalney
- Find out where our gulls are going - Some of our lesser black-backed and herring gulls have been fitted with tiny solar powered trackers. You can see what they are up to and track their movements around the bay in real time.
- Get involved at one of our events! Check out what's on at South Walney Nature Reserve