Unspoilt Wilderness: Burns Beck Moss

Water lilies Burns Beck Moss. Steve Pipe 2013

Burns Beck Moss is just 5 miles east of Kendal but has a genuine “out in the wilderness” feel to it. There’s ample parking in the disused quarry opposite and a clear, if boggy, path around the reserve; you’ll definitely be needing your waterproof boots for this one.
Burns Beck Moss 2013

Burns Beck Moss 2013. Steve Pipe

When most people think of Cumbria their minds conjure up images of the national park with its soaring fells and glistening lakes, but that is only part of the story.  Away from the high fells there are thousands of wonderful hidden away places where rare environments and protected species are being looked after and encouraged.  Burns Beck Moss is one of those places.

Let me tell you a little about what the site doesn’t have; it doesn’t have towering fells or deeply dramatic lakes, nor does it have picture postcard good looks that you’ll want to rush to tell your friends and family about but because of all that, neither does it have hoards of people which means that as you wander around enjoying the natural beauty of the area, the only sounds you’ll hear apart from your footsteps are the beck and the birds.

Burns Beck Moss 2013

Burns Beck Moss 2013. Steve Pipe

Burns Beck Moss exists on the site of an old glacial tarn which, over the years, has silted up and is now a rare and wonderful wildlife habitat.  Burns Beck itself runs through the middle of the reserve and there are a few wooden bridges affording pretty views along the reed beds where, if you’re very lucky you might spot a Reed Bunting.

The guidebook tells us there are 16 different species of sphagnum moss on the reserve but you don’t need to be an expert botanist to enjoy the place.  An entire lap is only just over half a mile, but during that time you will be able to pick out a wide variety of different plant and grasses even if, like us, you don’t know the names of all of the different species; you don’t need to be able to name them to enjoy looking at them.

Water bug Burns Beck Moss

Water bug Burns Beck Moss. Steve Pipe

We also got quite interested in some bugs on this site too.  We’re familiar with pond skaters but these were new to us and, as they weren’t in our trusty Collins Complete British Wildlife, we’re still in the dark so if you happen to know what they are, do drop me a line.

In the midst of all this natural beauty a row of wind turbines on the hill next to the reserve dominate the skyline.  They reminded me that even in the wildest places we still need organisations like the Wildlife Trusts to protect and preserve rare habitats.

As we made our way back to the car we could hear a Buzzard in the nearby woods, we kept waiting for him to show himself but he was clearly biding his time and waiting for us to leave.  Just as we reached the car and put the camera in the boot, he swooped out of the woods and turned two perfect circles above our heads.  Isn't that always the way? .

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