Hidden in Plain Sight: Dorothy Farrer's Spring Woods

I think perhaps one of the most interesting parts of exploring and writing about the wonderful nature reserves of Cumbria Wildlife Trust is the fact it means I get to visit fascinating places that I would otherwise probably miss completely.
Dorothy Farrers 2013

Dorothy Farrers 2013. Steve Pipe

Take Dorothy Farrer’s Spring Wood for example; we’ve been through Staveley on our way to Kentmere on many occasions, but I’ve never even noticed the road leading to the woods, never mind the woods themselves.

They’re easy enough to find though, when you’re in Staveley take the road signposted towards Kentmere but then turn right immediately after the paper factory. After you’ve stopped to take a picture of the gorgeous weir, follow the road for ½ mile or so then, not far after a road junction on the left, look for the small layby on the left with a gate and stone stile. There’s only parking enough for a couple of cars so pull well in. Hop over the stile and follow the track to the woods, though do be aware that this track can be a little bit muddy after rain.

As with Barkbooth Lot you have a choice of 2 gates but this time both of them will lead you into the woods. I’d suggest taking the gate on the left and follow the way markers around the reserve. Almost immediately on your left you’ll see a path leading away to a model of an old charcoal kiln, it’s worth visiting as the info boards explain about the history of the woods which were managed in the past as coppiced woodland for the bobbin industry. Plus it’s at the bottom of a very pretty little waterfall which you’ll probably want to photograph.

Wild garlic Dorothy Farrers 2013

Wild garlic Dorothy Farrers 2013. Steve Pipe

This is one of the steepest reserves we’ve so far visited and the path climbs sharply up into the woodland. At this time of year the floor of the wood is an absolute riot of colour with bluebells and garlic vying for your attention while the leaves on the trees are that gorgeous pale green colour that you only ever see during the spring.

The path winds up and around this perfect woodland glade with regular information boards telling you what to look out for during the different seasons as well as giving you a bit of background history on the area. As we made our way around the trees were full of birds with the tunes of Willow Warblers and Blackbirds competing for our attention against the background of the spring which runs down through the reserve.

The Nature Reserve woodlands border onto other woodland areas and while you’re visiting it’s worth taking the time to explore a little further. Mike’s Wood in particular has a lovely bench where you can enjoy a flask of tea and a sandwich. We also got chatting to a local gentleman who claims to have seen both Greater and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, though the best we managed was an assortment of tits and a very pretty nuthatch, though we did hear a buzzard making his rounds overhead.

Back into the Nature Reserve and the path will wind you back down through the rest of the woods before returning you the gate opposite to the one you entered by, giving you the perfect opportunity to go round again for another look.

About the authors: Beth Pipe is an outdoor writer and blogger and Steve is a photographer. You can read more blogs about Life & Hiking in Cumbria by Steve & Beth on their Cumbrian Rambler webpage