Cumbria Wildlife Trust celebrates the end of a wonderful project at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve

View across the wetlands to the summit of Eycott Hill © Nichola Jackson

In 2015 we began a five-year project at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, to combine habitat restoration with restorative low-input farming and people engagement.

Over the five years we have planted 10,150 trees, restored six hectares of hay meadows, volunteers have contributed over 1,200 days of volunteering, delivered 47 skills courses to 500 people, reached over 1,200 people with 173 art workshops, more than 3,250 people have engaged with nature across 233 events and over 28,000 people have visited Eycott Hill Nature Reserve.

In 2017 we blocked 20 man-made ditches that were draining water into Naddles Beck and created 29 wetland scrapes, a series of shallow pools that provide wildlife habitats. A recent study has revealed that aquatic invertebrates have benefited from the creation of these pools as there are now eight species of dragonfly breeding on the nature reserve, with the most exciting being the broad-bodied chaser, which is spreading northwards but still considered rare in Cumbria.

 One Image of one of new bridges with Eycott Hill summit in the background © Nichola Jackson.jpg

One of the new bridges with Eycott Hill summit in the background © Nichola Jackson.

In the last few months of the project, a brand new Public Right of Way from the Mungrisdale road on to nature reserve has been installed by the Lake District National Park Authority. This has seen the construction of two additional footbridges, funded by the Lake District Ramblers’ Association and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, on the west side of the nature reserve to enable access over Naddles Beck.

We have installed new interpretation panels welcoming visitors at this side of the reserve and provided information on the wildlife in the pools and wetland areas. Finally, we’ve waymarked a path to the summit of Eycott Hill allowing visitors to follow a route through the uneven and boggy ground. We thank the local landowners for their cooperation and we hope local residents and visitors enjoy the new footpath.

Image of new interpretation panel at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve © Nichola Jackson

New interpretation panel at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve © Nichola Jackson

As a result of a three-month extension to the project, due to the Covid-19 situation, the Eycott Hill project officers have been busy creating a series of educational resources based around the nature reserve for children, young adults and students. The resources include fact files and activity sheets on hay meadows, wild flowers, geology and natural history, all of which can be downloaded here. 

The Eycott Hill project has been made possible thanks to National Lottery Players and support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thank you to everyone who made a personal donation, and to our grant funders: The Banister Charitable Trust, Biffa Award, Cumbria Waste Management Environment Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, FCC Communities Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Natural England. All of whom, collectively, have made the purchase of Eycott Hill Nature Reserve and the whole project possible.

Nichola Jackson, Eycott Hill Communication and Events Officer said; “The Eycott Hill project has been truly wonderful to deliver and has included a huge range of activities, from the habitat management and reserve works to all the events engaging people of all ages in wildlife and nature. Thank you to everyone who has volunteered, attended an event, taken part in a skills course or visited the nature reserve. The support we have received throughout the project has been instrumental to its success – so thank you!”     

Although this marks the end of a wonderful project, Cumbria Wildlife Trust will continue to look after Eycott Hill Nature Reserve. We are excited to see how it will develop over many years to come and we hope everyone continues to enjoy this spectacular place. 

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Work at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve is possible thanks to National Lottery Players, and support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.