Walney Island

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Image Source: Vivienne Crow

There are two atmospheric nature reserves on Walney, one at either end of the nine mile-long island. Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s South Walney Nature Reserve is the only place in Cumbria where you can regularly see grey seals. They haul out on to the protected beaches here to rest and, in the last few years, have even started breeding. The reserve is also home to large flocks of waders and waterfowl in winter, and a breeding colony of Arctic terns.

At the northern end of this long sliver of glacial till is a national nature reserve that takes in huge sand dunes, dune heath, mudflats, shingle beaches and salt marsh. It offers up wildlife spectacles all year round – from shimmering flocks of knots in winter to summer’s wildflower displays. Visit in spring, on a warm, still evening for a chance of hearing male natterjack toads calling to attract a mate.

Walney Island, part of Barrow-in-Furness, is joined to the mainland by a road bridge.