Grubbins Wood

Limestone woodland provides shade for many species of ferns. Large mounds on the woodland floor are home to southern wood ants.


Grubbins Wood Nature Reserve

OS Map Reference

Sheet no. 97
Grid reference SD 444 777 (reserve entrance off New Barns Road)
A static map of Grubbins Wood

Know before you go

9 hectares

Entry fee

All donations are gratefully received.

Parking information

Centre of Arnside

Bicycle parking


Grazing animals

Cattle at times

Walking trails

The reserve has a number of interconnected rides and there is a waymarked path from the New Barns entrance (Pickles Meadow) through the wood to Sands Field and the sailing club (1km/0.6 miles). 


The path has some steep slopes with steps. Visitors are asked to keep to the paths.


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open all year round

Best time to visit

April to July, September to November

About the reserve

Wildlife highlights

  • Red wood ants are active in spring and summer feeding on honeydew produced by aphids in the tree tops – they go into hibernation in winter. Don't miss the southern wood ants busy carrying food to their large nest mounds in the summer.
  • A display of meadow flowers including dropwort, betony, salad burnet, bird’s-foot-trefoil and lady’s bedstraw add summertime cheer to Pickles Meadow
  • Hart’s-tongue fern is one of 24 species found in the dark, damp microclimate of the wood 
  • Blue bell and wild garlic carpet the woodland floor in spring and greater butterfly and spotted orchids are in flower. 
  • In autumn you can see bright red berries  on the lancastrian whitebeam.
  • Winter is the time to spot waders and wildfowl down on the foreshore.

Ancient woodland

Woodland has probably been present at Grubbins Wood since medieval times although historically it would have been coppiced for timber.

Today, impressive stands of yew grow on extremely thin soils and cast a deep shade throughout the year so that little can grow beneath.

Elsewhere, oak, birch and ash are common, beneath which flowering bluebell, dog’s mercury and wild garlic signal the start of spring. 

The low cliffs above the shore is the place to find the Lancastrian whitebeam, known only from the Morecambe Bay limestones. 

Ferns, such as hart's tongue fern, love the dark, damp microclimate of the wood and 24 species have been recorded here.

What makes Grubbin Wood so special?

Grubbins Wood is home to a variety of plants and insects that are rare in Cumbria.

Small-leaved limes are large, old trees that grow along the bottom of Sands Field, whilst Lancastrian whitebeam, which is unique to Morecambe Bay, is found on the low cliffs above the shore.

Red wood ants make nests here at their most northerly location in Britain.    

Southern wood ants

Look out for the large mounds on the woodland floor which are the nests of southern wood ants. 

The ants build nests from leaves and other material in sheltered, sunny spots.

They are most active in the spring and summer but they retreat underground for the winter. 

Meadow flowers

The nature reserve has two areas of grassland, Pickles Meadow and Sands Field. 

Pickles Meadow is the most diverse with dropwort, betony, salad burnet, bird's foot trefoil, lady's bedstraw and knapweed. 

Keeping it special

Grubbins Wood has been managed by the Trust since 1974 and leased from the Matson Grand Estate since 1978. The fields are grazed annually to encourage the flowering plant species. We carry out limited management in the wood itself.

Getting here

Grubbins Wood can be reached on foot from the centre of Arnside. At the end of the promenade, follow the public footpath along the shore for 0.7km/0.5 miles passing Ash Meadow and the Sailing Club. The reserve can be accessed via a stile just beyond the Sailing Club’s slipway. Alternative access is via Red Hills Road and New Barns Road.

By bicycle:

The reserve is 1.5km/3miles from National Route 700 The Bay Cycleway and 5km/3 miles from National Route 6 Greenwich to Keswick.

By public transport:

Trains run from Lancaster, Barrow-in-Furness, Ulverston and Grange-over-Sands to Arnside. Buses run from Kendal to Arnside. 

Contact us

Paul Waterhouse
Contact number: 01539 816300

Environmental designation

Local Wildlife Site (LWS)

Upcoming events at Grubbins Wood Nature Reserve

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