Wildlife and Nature Reserves near Hawthorns Park Wildlife and Nature Reserves near Hawthorns Park

Wildlife and Nature Reserves near Hawthorns Park

If you are looking for holiday home location that enables you to enjoy the natural beauty of the coast and countryside, you will find Hawthorns Park hard to beat.

Hawthorns is situated between the Forest of Bowland AONB and Arnside & Silverdale AONB so there are lots of wildlife and nature reserves within easy driving distance that will enable you to get close to nature.

You will find some extraordinary places to explore the amazing wildlife, stunning scenery, and superb walks. From the simple beauty of the lady’s-slipper orchid to the shining sands of Morecambe Bay, the area is simply awe-inspiring.

Most of the local nature reserves near Carnforth are open all year round and many allow dogs.

Here is a list of a few of our favourite wildlife and nature reserves in Lancashire and the Lake District.

Arnside & Silverdale AONB

Arnside and Silverdale is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the border between Lancashire and Cumbria, adjoining Morecambe Bay. One of the smallest AONBs, it covers 29 square miles.

The narrow lanes and byways are one of the delights of this AONB and along with an intricate network of footpaths make it a great area for walking and cycling. There is walking to suit all abilities, from climbing to the top of Warton Crag, the highest point in the AONB at 163m, to a gentle stroll along the promenade at Arnside.

Forest of Bowland AONB

The Forest of Bowland AONB covers 312 square miles of rural Lancashire and adjacent Yorkshire. From Hurst Green in the south to Wennington in the North, the Forest of Bowland is dotted with charming stone villages, some of which date as far back as pre-historic times.

Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 18 mins / 10 miles

Lady's Slipper Orchid

The Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve (NNR) is situated in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is one of the UK’s most important limestone landscapes made up of a diverse mix of limestone and peatland.

Gait Barrows has also been chosen as one of the primary planting sites in the species recovery programme for the Lady’s Slipper Orchid – Cypripedium calceolus – Britain’s rarest wildflowers. The orchid was thought to be extinct in the UK, but the Species Recovery Program has been very successful and there is a thriving population of plants, that can be enjoyed by large numbers of visitors each spring.

There are several public footpaths and three way-marked nature trails on site and some of the paths are Tramper-friendly.

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Download the handy Gait Barrows leaflet guide here.

Brockholes Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 33 mins / 31 miles


Whether you are a naturalist or complete beginner, Brockholes has lots of opportunities to get close to nature.

Brockholes Nature Reserve is built on the site of an old quarry and the Lancashire Wildlife Trust have created habitats for lots of different wildlife. You can take a walk along the River Ribble, explore the woods or enjoy the lakes on site that attract all sorts of wildlife. You will find a floating Visitor Village which means that you are as close to nature as possible providing stunning views across the lake

If you have children with you, they will love to explore the adventure play area nestled in the grassland. For the older, more adventurous kids they can play on the high ropes course and enjoy a view across the nature reserve.

The reserve is free to enter but there is a car park charge of £5 for all day parking. All funds from car parking goes into maintaining the reserve and its facilities. No dogs allowed on the nature reserve.

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Heysham Moss Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 10 mins / 4 miles

Speckled Wood Butterfly

Heysham Moss Reserve can boast a real conservation success story. With its combination of woodland, scrub, wet grassland and raised bog, it makes it a wildlife hotspot.

Plant lovers and budding botanists will relish the chance to seek out round-leaved sundew, bog myrtle, bog rosemary, bog asphodel and locally rare white-beaked sedge, as well as several important mosses.

The large heath Butterfly is the undisputed success story of Heysham Moss. It was previously extinct on this site but successfully reintroduced between 2014 and 2016 with the support of The Lancashire Environment Fund and Chester Zoo. Look out for butterflies with underwings bordered by a row of black eyespots with a creamy yellow centre and a halo.

During the summer months the reserve comes alive with all sorts of birds. Keep an eye out for the sedge warbler, grasshopper warbler and reed bunting, as well as willow warbler and chiffchaff.

Look up and you will see Buzzards using the thermals to circle high overhead, and closer to the lake insect-lovers can watch dragonflies patrolling the reserve’s pools and ditches on the hunt for food.

Dogs allowed on the nature reserve under effective control.

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Heysham Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 8 mins / 3 miles

Not to be confused with Heysham Moss Reserve, Heysham Nature Reserve is located just round the corner from the bustling Heysham docks. It is a short drive away from the beautiful Heysham village and is the perfect place to stop and spend a couple of hours if you are on a day trip to Morecambe and the surrounding area.

You will find lots of British birds visiting the grass and wetlands including sedge warblers, greenfinches, snipe and woodcock, to migratory birds like willow warblers, night herons and wrynecks!

In fact, step on to the reserve during the spring and summer months and the birdsong is almost deafening.

Heysham Nature Reserve isn’t just good for birds. If you stroll through the reserve on a sunny day, you will see the grass erupt with clouds of colourful butterflies and day-flying moths that take advantage of this nectar buffet.

If history is more your thing, then take a stroll along one of the circular walks to St Patrick’s chapel and back, where you will come across rock cut coffin graves, Viking remains, Ship Sculpture overlooking Half Moon Bay and the South Pier lighthouse.

Dogs are permitted on some of the nature reserve.

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RSPB Leighton Moss

Drive time from Hawthorns – 14 mins / 6 miles

Heron fishing at Leighton Moss Reserve


Leighton Moss boasts the largest reed bed in north-west England and is home to a wide range of wildlife including otters, bearded tits, marsh harriers, egrets and red deer.

You will find lots of different wildlife sightings throughout the year. Spring sees breeding marsh harriers return to the reserve, where they engage in stunning aerial sky dances and the reedbeds come alive with the sounds of signing warblers.

During the summer months, the wetlands come alive with all kinds of flowers and dragonflies adding a splash of colour. Time it right and you might also catch a glimpse of otters trying to catch fish and eels.

Autumn brings huge numbers of wading birds to the reserve and on calmer evenings you might see one or two red deer as they make their way across the reserve.

As the winter nights close in you can watch the stunning murmurations display – as thousands of starlings flock together and swirl above the reedbeds before they roost. Keep an eye out for the little egrets that congregate in the trees at dusk.

RSPAB Leighton Moss is a great day out if you’re a budding bird watcher, expert ornithologist or just looking for an interesting walk among some local wildlife.

Dogs are welcome on the Causeway (the public right of way through the middle of Leighton Moss) and the designated dog-friendly path.

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Thwaite Brow Woods

Drive time from Hawthorns – 7 mins / 3 miles

Thwaite Brow Woods is a lovely wood to wander around for a couple of hours (with or without a dog) and take in the views across the Bay.

The wood is managed by a local conservation group on behalf of Bolton le Sands Parish Council and has a number of events included guided walks.

Trowbarrow Quarry

Drive time from Hawthorns – 15 mins / 8 miles

Trowbarrow Quarry is a disused limestone quarry near Silverdale. Derived from two words, ‘Trow’ meaning trough and ‘barrow’, the Anglo-Saxon word for hill, Trowbarrow Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is owned by Lancaster City Council and is a Geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Once a limestone quarry, it is now managed as a nature reserve and for quiet recreation. It is a popular rock climbing area

Trowbarrow’s buildings and its quarrymen may have long gone, but you can still explore the heritage of the site while enjoying its present-day tranquil atmosphere.

Click to download A Guide to Trowbarrow Local Nature Reserve (3.7MB)

Fairfield Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 7 mins / 3 miles

Fairfield Nature Reserve (locally known as Fauna) is a 16-acre site that has been created to encourage a wide diversity of wildlife throughout its hay meadow, grazing pasture, wetland and water features.

Wander along the fully accessible public footpath and keep an eye out for water birds, wetland flowers and butterflies. In autumn and winter, look out for snipe, curlews and other wading birds; in summer, sedge and willow warblers are visitors flying from Africa to breed here.

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Download the Fairfield Nature Reserve leaflet

Warton Crag Local Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 11 mins / 5 miles

Bran the dog at Warton Crag at sunset

Warton Crag is a great place to spend a few hours walking. There are two ways up, one is pretty vertical up the cliff face the other is more gentle but still requires a good pair of boots.

If you park in the quarry car park you can walk up the short (but steep) path to the top – where you will be rewarded with stunning views across Morcambe Bay and Arnside.

Some of the terrain is quite challenging but it’s well worth the effort. Look out for the different colour coded walking routes

It is very dog-friendly but given the cliff faces – you may want to keep them on a lead.

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Fell End Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 14 mins / 8 miles

Red Deer Leighton Moss

Fell End Nature Reserve is approximately 90 acres with lots of protected wildlife including rare birds and deer. It originally opened in 2018 as part of a holiday park, but the reserve is now open to the public.

Located in the heart of the Arnside & Siverdale AONB, the reserve has three hides and a range of woodland trails to explore – where you can spot deer, birds, butterflies and more.

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Ingleborough National Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 54 mins / 18 miles

Although a bit further away from Hawthorns Holiday Park than some of the other nature reserves, Ingleborough is well worth a visit.

Ingleborough National Nature Reserve is located near Selside, Ribblesdale. The reserve covers an impressive 1,014 hectares on some of the northern, north-eastern and eastern slopes surrounding Ingleborough, which is one of the famous Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales National Park – together with Pen-y-ghent and Whernside.

This mountainous area is renowned and protected for its special wildlife, geology and spectacular scenery. The area includes meadow rich pastures, heather clad moors, ancient woodlands and some of the best limestone pavements in the country.

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Eaves Wood Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 20 mins / 8 miles

Grab your boots and explore the ancient woodland and glades in Eaves Wood Nature reserve. In the spring the coppiced areas of hazel that have been cut back are a haven for primroses and violets and a sprinkling of bluebells.

Take a stroll to the Queen Victoria Jubilee monument (locally known as the Pepperpot) on the summit of the woodland overlooking the village of Silverdale.

If you time it right of an evening – you will see the sun setting over Morecambe Bay with all of its glorious colours.

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Hay Bridge Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 45 mins / 31 miles

The Hay Bridge Nature Reserve nestles in the heart of the Rusland Valley, between Windermere and Coniston in the Lake District. Hay Bridge is a special place, but because it is privately owned, access to the Reserve is limited to members of the Hay Bridge Nature Reserve Society, or by arrangement with the Warden.

Hay Bridge has been established as a nature reserve since the late 1960’s, originally designated as a wildlife reserve and deer sanctuary.

Woodland, pasture, open tarn, fen, raised bog, riverbank, fell; such a diverse range of habitats, in such a relatively small area, leads to an equally diverse and varied range of flora and fauna.

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Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve

Drive time from Hawthorns – 25 mins / 31 miles

Osprey at Foulshaw Nature Reserve

Foulshaw Moss is an incredibly peaceful nature reserve that offers something special for all wildlife enthusiasts. Although the landscape is challenging, a boardwalk makes visiting easy-going, with routes leading through peaty pools or out onto the open moss where many different butterflies, moths and insects are found.

This important place is home to a returning pair of breeding Ospreys, and you can watch from the web-cam here when it opens again in the Spring.  In the meantime, enjoy some of the recorded footage of the ospreys or read a Foulshaw Ospreys blog here.

The Moss is also home to dragonflies, butterflies, adders and otters, and many migrating birds.

You can explore Foulshaw this year on a series of events being run by the Wildlife Trust – on Saturday mornings from February to May. Check out their website below for details.


Dogs are welcome on a lead.

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