Drumburgh Moss

image of Drumburgh moss nature reserve

Corporate members help us support wildlife and wild places throughout Cumbria, such Drumbrugh Moss Nature Reserve 

Drumburgh Moss National Nature Reserve is a site of international importance, dominated by an expanse of lowland raised mire, one of Western Europe's most threatened habitats.

Sphagnum moss, sundew and other bog-loving plants thrive in the wetlands that make up much of the terrain. Curlew and red grouse breed and adders and roe deer are seen.


Near Drumburgh village

OS Map Reference

OS 1:50,000
Sheet no. 85
Grid reference NY 255 586
A static map of Drumburgh Moss

Know before you go

121 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Moss Cottage car park

Bicycle parking


Grazing animals

Exmoor ponies and longhorn cattle

Walking trails

An 800m waymarked route across usually dry and level ground leads to a raised platform.

A circular route from Moss Cottage onto the moss, then to Whiteholme and back using the public footpath is approximately 3.2 km/2 miles. Wellington boots are essential!


The terrain and vegetation make walking very difficult, however various circular walks can be made from the car park by walking on top of the bunds created to re-wet the site.

Adders and ticks are present on the site.


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open all year round

Best time to visit

April to August

About the reserve

Wildlife highlights

Take a walk to our new bird hide and viewing platform for fantastic views across the mire to the hills beyond. 

This nature reserve is a fantastic place to see birds all year round including birds of prey, invertebrates including many species of dragonfly and butterfly, and much more.

  • Spring - Birds displaying and cotton grasses flowering across the mire. Bog plants such as bog rosemary, heather and cranberry are at their best.  You might be treated to breeding displays of curlew, skylark and reed buntings. Red grouse, redshank, snipe and grasshopper warbler also breed here. Reptiles and amphibians emerging from their hibernation.  The arrival of migratory birds such as cuckoos.

  • Summer - the nationally rare large heath butterfly is on the wing from June to August looking for cotton grass on which it lays its eggs. This is the time to find adders and common lizards basking. Cranberry, bog rosemary and later heather are in flower.  You can find all three species of sundew here including the scarce great sundew. Sundews have adapted to low nutrients of the bog by trapping and digesting flies on sticky filaments on their leaves. The pools near the nature reserve entrance are alive with dragonflies and damselflies during the summer months.
  • Autumn - Also look out for short-eared owls hunting over the moss. Also, a good time to see the elusive hobby and other birds of prey including peregrine falcons.  Still plenty of dragonflies about too, with very impressive numbers of black daters.
  • Winter - Drumburgh Moss nature reserve often hosts small numbers of geese from the huge flocks on the Solway. Other wildfowl include teal and sometimes flocks of black-headed gulls.  Hen harriers can sometimes be seen roosting.

A threatened habitat

Raised mires were formed following the last ice age when dead vegetation gradually in-filled a body of standing water forming peat, which eventually became raised up above the surrounding land.

In recent years much of this habitat has been lost or damaged, making it one of western Europe’s most threatened habitats.

How the moss is formed

Being raised, the bog surface gets all its moisture from rain water which is lacking in nutrients. The bog vegetation is largely made up of Sphagnum moss, of which 13 species have been recorded on the nature reserve. Sphagnum moss, is highly absorbent, and can hold large amounts of water acting like a giant sponge.  

Sphagnum moss is not the only bog plant to be found. Drumburgh Moss nature reserve is home to a number of specialist bog plants. In spring, the moss is a profusion of the white heads of cotton grass, dancing in the wind. 

Working to restore the moss

Past drainage and peat cutting of the moss and surrounding farmland has meant that Drumburgh Moss is much drier than it should be.

The Trust has carried out extensive restoration works: blocking ditches, reprofiling peat faces and removal of trees and scrub all help to raise the water level so that the bog vegetation can start to regrow.

Keeping it special

Around the moss are areas of wet and dry heath, scrub and grassland which are managed by grazing. We use native breed cattle and hardy Exmoor ponies to keep the vegetation open.

Drumburgh Moss is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is part of the South Solway Mosses Special Area of Conservation.

The main nature reserve was purchased by Cumbria Wildlife Trust in 1981, however various extensions have been purchased since then.

Getting here by car:

Drumburgh Moss is located immediately south of Drumburgh village. On entering the village from the Carlisle direction turn left by the post office. Follow the track for about 400m crossing the cattle grid and passing Moss Cottage on the left. Park on the right immediately beyond the cottage. Please ensure your vehicle does not obstruct access as the track is in constant use.

By bicycle:

The reserve is on National Route 72 Hadrian's Cycleway.

By public transport:

Buses run from Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway and Anthorn. 

Contact us

Kevin Scott
Contact number: 01228 829570

Environmental designation

National Nature Reserve (NNR)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

Dying of the Light - a short film about Drumburgh Moss Nature Reserve, Cumbria

Further information about Drumburgh Moss Nature Reserve

Thanks to our funder Cumbria Waste Management Environment Trust.

CWMET - Cumbria waste management logo 150x150

Upcoming events at Drumburgh Moss Nature Reserve

If there are any upcoming events at Drumburgh Moss Nature Reserve we'll show them to you below.