Know before you go
Grazing animalsCattle and sheep
There is a circular path around the reserve (2km/1.2 miles) which is waymarked. This involves some steps and ladder stiles.
Some steep ground. Path has steps and ladder stiles.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to October
About the reserve
Highlights Springtime display of bluebells and other spring flowers in the woodland Don't miss the ant hills on Blawith Hill Look out for wax cap fungi Great views over the Kent estuary Woodland This is a typical limestone woodland of ash and hazel with yew forming dense stands in places. A visit in spring, before the trees are in full leaf, is especially rewarding as you will see a magnificent display of bluebells, wood anemone, wild garlic and primroses. Look out for spurge laurel, a small shrub which has highly scented flowers in early spring, Spurge laurel is at the northern edge of its range in Britain here. Stinking iris, a plant that gets its name from the smell of fresh meat given off when its leaves are crushed, is another plant more commonly found further south. It thrives here although is probably introduced. Grasslands The best areas of grasslands are on Merlewood Bank and the Top Fields. Here, you can find salad burnet, bird's foot trefoil, knapweed, pignut, wild thyme and occasionally common rockrose. Don't miss the ant hills, created by the yellow meadow ant on Blawith Hill. Green woodpeckers can sometimes be seen feeding on the ants. In the autumn you can often find waxcap and other fungi. Keeping it special Historically the woodland would have been coppiced on a regular basis and recently coppicing we have re-introduced coppicing to a small enclosure within the wood. The fence ensures that the coppice regrows, as there is a large roe deer population in the area. The grasslands have had no fertiliser application for many years and we graze them with both cattle and sheep to maintain the species diversity. The nature reserve was given to the Trust in 1977 by Miss Mary Widdup. Getting here By car:From the layby on the B5271 from Grange over Sands; or access on foot via the driveway to the Netherwood Hotel off the B5277 following the track from the hotel carpark uphill to the left . Alternatively from the carpark of the Cumbria Grand Hotel off the B5277 where the the reserve can be accessed through the hotel woodland and a gate in the boundary. By bicycle:The reserve is on National Route 72 (Walney to Wear)/Regional Route 30. By public transport :Trains run from Barrow in Furness, Ulverston and Lancaster to Grange over Sands. Buses run from Kendal to Grange over Sands. Nature Reserves Guide Cumbria Wildlife Trust's Nature Reserve Guide, which provides information about all the Trust's reserves is available to buy now from our online shop.