Know before you go
The walk from car park to far end of island and back is 4.6km/3 miles. Dogs are not permitted in summer; although the rest of the year they are permitted on a lead. Slitch Ridge is closed at this time and no dogs (except assistance dogs) are allowed.
Please note: around high tide the island may be cut off for several hours. During breeding season, access is restricted to designated paths. The track along the causeway can be muddy and slippery.
When to visit
Opening timesAround High Tide the reserve may be cut off.
Best time to visitApril to August
About the reserve
- Spring is an exciting time with courting eider ducks and terns starting to arrive back on the reserve. Thrift and sea campion are in flower.
- In summer the three species of tern are busy feeding chicks. You can see lots of ringed plover chicks as well.
- In autumn there are large numbers of oyster catcher and curlew. The sea aster is in flower.
- Winter is a great time to spot birds such as brent geese, wigeon, knot and dunlin. You might also see long-tailed duck, Slovenian grebe or the occasional diver on the sea amongst thousands of eider.
At any time of year you might see seals.
Island of pebbles
Foulney Island is formed entirely of pebbles that were brought from the Lake District to the coast by glaciers during the last ice age. Once a true island, Foulney Island is connected to the mainland by a man-made causeway built in the 19th century to prevent the Walney Channel from silting up. The saltmarsh to the east of the causeway has developed as a direct result.
This is a great place to find specialist plants of shingle and saltmarsh. The vegetated shingle of the island itself is nationally important with species such as sea kale, sea campion and yellow horned poppy. On the saltmarsh you can find sea purslane, sea lavender and glasswort.
Breeding, migrating and wintering birds
Foulney Island is perhaps best known for its breeding terns which travel vast distances to nest on the island's shingle banks. Artic, common and little tern all breed here. Other breeding birds include ringed plover, oystercatcher, eider, skylark and meadow pipit. The island has a resident warden during the breeding season to monitor and protect the birds. In autumn and winter, curlew, dunlin, knot and oystercatcher may be seen in thousands and great-crested grebe, red-breasted merganser, cormorant and common scoter are frequently present offshore.
Keeping it special
Foulney Island has been leased and managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust since 1974.
By car: From Rampside take the road towards Roa Island. Path from carpark takes you alongside the stone causeway onto Foulney Island.
By bicycle: The reserve is 10km/6 miles from National Route 72 (Walney to Wear)
By public transport: Buses run from Barrow in Furness and Ulverston to Roa Island.