Argill Woods

An undisturbed wild place, Argill Woods Nature Reserve is a tranquil steep sided wooded valley with waterfalls and pools where dippers and pied flycatchers can be seen.

Spring flowers carpet the woodland floor whilst species rich meadows provide a habitat for orchids and melancholy thistle.


Near Brough
CA17 4EX

OS Map Reference

Sheet no. 91
Grid reference NY 839 139
A static map of Argill Woods

Know before you go

7 hectares

Entry fee

All donations are gratefully received.

Parking information

On the old A66, park in layby on left hand side and continue on foot. After 500m take the public footpath down the farm track on the left hand side to Dyke House and Argill Beck.

Bicycle parking

Not especially allocated but they could be chained to a fence.

Grazing animals

Cattle grazing at times.

Walking trails

There is a circular path around the reserve (1.6km/1 mile) linking the two public footpaths which cross the nature reserve. 


The terrain is steep and often muddy, and the path has steps in places.


Under effective control

When to visit

Opening times

Open all year round

Best time to visit

March to August

About the reserve

Wildlife highlights

  • Dippers and grey wagtails feed in the clear water around the waterfalls and pools
  • Bats and a variety of birds such as great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper, redstart and many species of tit find the mature trees ideal for providing food, roosting and nesting places
  • Wildflowers including greater butterfly and fragrant orchid, wood crane’s-bill, melancholy thistle and adder’s-tongue fern flourish in the meadows 
  • In spring - Bluebells and other flowers carpet the woodland floor.
  • In summer - a good time to find orchids and the lovely melancholy thistle.
  • In autumn  -flocks of long tailed tits flit around the trees. Throughout the year keep an eye out for red squirrels.  

What makes Argill Woods so special? 

Nestled in a secluded river valley, this woodland is a sanctuary for numerous plants and animals.

Wild garlic thrives amongst the ash and birch woodland on the limestone soils, while bluebells and wood-sorrel are abundant on the more neutral soils where oak and birch trees dominate the canopy above.


Argill Woods is a good place to compare trees and plants growing on different soil types. On the limestone soils you will find  ash and birch woodland along with wild garlic and dog's mercury. On the more neutral soils, oak and birch are the main tree species with bluebell and wood sorrel.

Homes for birds

Mature trees provide food and nesting places for a variety of birds such as greater spotted woodpecker, spotted and pied flycatcher, nuthatch, tree creeper, redstart and numerous species of tit. 

Dead wood is an important here as many creatures, such as beetles, woodlice and flies, need it for food and shelter. These in turn provide rich pickings for birds and other animals to eat.


Between the areas of woodland, clearings of species rich grassland come alive in summer with wildflowers.

Look out for the handsome melancholy thistle and orchids such as greater butterfly orchid, fragrant orchid and common and heath spotted orchids.

Waterfalls and pools

Around the pools and waterfalls of Argill Beck you can see dippers and grey wagtails feeding in the clear water.  

Numerous springs join the beck through wet flushes where water mint, marsh valerian and angelica can be seen.

Keeping it special

The Trust manages the meadow areas with a combination of cutting and grazing, whilst keeping livestock out of the woodland to promote woodland regeneration.

Industrial history

Over many millennia Argill Beck has carved a steep-sided valley as it winds its way from Stainmore to the River Eden.

Due to the steep and challenging landscape, parts of the nature reserve are likely to have been wooded for centuries, yet despite this inaccessibility small-scale coal mining took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Recent history

Argill Woods was purchased in two parts in 1984 and 1986 with grant aid from the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the Countryside Commission and donations from Trust members.

Getting here

By car:

From Brough take A66 east for approximately 4km/2.5 miles. Take the right turn signposted Hard Hills onto the old A66. Park on the roadside near the bus turning area the on left hand side and continue on foot. After 500m take the public footpath down the farm track on the left hand side to Gill Bank. There is vehicular access to Gill Bank but care is needed and is recommended for 4WD vehicles only.

By bicycle:

The reserve is 2km/1.2miles miles from National Route 70 Walney to Wear (W2W).

By public transport:

Buses run from Ravenstonedale and Kirkby Stephen to North Stainmore.

Further Information

Visit the The North Peninnes AONB Partnership website for Special Invertebrate Site information.

Contact us

Andrew Walter
Contact number: 01539 816300

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Upcoming events at Argill Woods Nature Reserve

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