LAKE DISTRICT: WASDALE, ESKDALE, DUDDON & HARDKNOTT PASS

ENGLAND (nw)

CUMBRIA (Gosforth), (sw)

26o00´E/25o30´N (Gosforth), 19o20´E/25o55´N (Wasdale Youth Hostel), 30,000ha (owned by National Trust), 40-978m (Scar Fell Pike- England`s highest peak), old volcanic rock very mountainous, rugged. Mainly recent with a little ancient oak/birch woodland, screes, bogs, moorland and bare rock with lakes and rivers 
Part of Cumbria National Park much of the area is owned by National Trust and there are many SSSI (Sites of Scientific Interest; designated by Natural England) 
Best Time for visit (9-18.07.07)

 

Birding Site Guide

The town of Gosforth is just e of the A595, which runs n-s just inland of Cumbria. It can be approached via the A66 in the n or the A590 in the s or the A591 and minor roads through the centre of the national park.

This is a very scenic area with huge rugged mountains and deep clear lakes, with hills covered in woodlands and heath. The narrow roads can be very busy and dangerous especially in peak holiday season. Wasdale becomes especially busy with many hikers trying the 3 peaks challenge (3 peaks in 24hrs). Places to stay are numerous and varied, but at the cheaper end of the market are the Youth Hostels, one of which is 1.5 miles e of Nether Wasdale on the shores of England`s deepest lake (63m) Wast Water. This hostel is extremely popular, particularly for the 3 peaks challenge, so booking ahead may be required. Fortunately there is another less busy Youth Hostel in Eskdale, a little w of the narrow gauge railway which runs from here to the coast at Ravenglass (also a good birding area and soon to be added to BSG). Wasdale has another claim to fame apart from its deep lake; with towering scree cliffs rising over 520m from the water (to 609m), and that is England`s smallest church. Wasdale also has The Biggest Liar (an annual event). There are no shops in Nether Wasdale, just 2 pubs (both with accommodation) the nearest shop being at Gosforth. For campers there is a wide choice, for instance in Nether Wasdale close to the pubs is Church Stile Farm Campsite and further up the valley (e) near the head of Wast Water there is a National Trust campsite. Other campsites are found in Eskdale. Hardknott Pass is a very steep road at the head of Eskdale, which climbs via many tortuous short switchback hairpins up to the bleak and dramatic moor tops. Along here are the remains of a Roman fort and this is as good a place as any to see Raven. The high crags above Milkingsteads Wood in Eskdale are another very good area for Raven. Redstarts can be found at Kidbeck in Wasdale, where there are many public footpaths to the woods and River Irt. Stonechat is common anywhere where there is a bit of gorse on higher ground and Peregrine can be seen around the screes of Wast Water. 

Species

Without a visit to the coast the species list is not long and some species are easier seen elsewhere, such as Osprey Pandion haliaetus and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor. Common species not seen included Lapwing Vanelus vanellus and I had hoped to see Red Grouse Legopus legopus scoticus, Dipper Cinclus cinclus, Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus and Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca but had no luck although some of this may have been due to time of year. Future visits earlier in the season may be more beneficial.

 

  • Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
  • Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
  • Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
  • Greylag Goose Anser anser
  • Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  • Goosander Mergus merganser
  • Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
  • Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
  • Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
  • Merlin Falco columbarius
  • Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
  • Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
  • Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  • Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
  • Great Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
  • Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
  • Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
  • Herring Gull Larus argentatus
  • Rock Dove Columba livia
  • Stock Dove Columba oenas
  • Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
  • Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
  • Barn Owl Tyto alba
  • Tawny Owl Strix aluco
  • Common Swift Apus apus
  • Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
  • Sky Lark Alauda arvensis
  • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  • House Martin Delichon urbica
  • Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis
  • Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
  • Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba
  • Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
  • Hedge Accentor Prunella modularis
  • Robin Erithacus rubecula
  • Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
  • Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
  • Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
  • Blackbird Turdus merula
  • Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
  • Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
  • Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
  • Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
  • Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
  • Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
  • Coal Tit Parus ater
  • Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
  • Great Tit Parus major
  • Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
  • Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
  • Magpie Pica pica
  • Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula
  • Rook Corvus frugilegus
  • Carrion Crow Corvus corone
  • Raven Corvus corax
  • Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  • House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  • Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
  • Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
  • Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
  • Siskin Carduelis spinus
  • Linnet Carduelis cannabina
  • Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret
  • Common Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
  • Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella
  • Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus


Mammals

  • Common Shrew Sorex araneus
  • Otter Lutra lutra
  • Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus
  • Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris
  • Water Vole Arviola terrestris
  • Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus
  • Rabbit Oryctolagus coniculus


Herptiles

  • Slow Worm Anguis fragilis
  • Adder Vipera berus


Fishes

The rare Arctic Charr Salvelinus alpinus is found in Wast Water. 

 

Flora

Rare ferns and other plants are found on the screes above Wast Water. In Eskdale there are rare Bryophytes and Liverworts at Milkingsteads Wood SSSI (National Trust). Oval-leafed Sundew can be found in some boggy areas. 


Author: BSG

 

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