Sizergh’s wonderful wildlife walk
Sizergh Castle is a great starting point for your Lake District holiday. The castle, still lived in by the Strickland family, is surrounded by a traditional agricultural estate with stunning views across the countryside, taking in the coast at Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland Fells and Pennines.
A spectacular wildlife walk in any season
Discover an amazing array of natural history throughout the year in this quiet corner of the South Lakes. Fritillary butterfly species fly effortlessly through the woodland glades in summer, basking and feeding in warm open areas.
Sizergh Castle car park, grid ref: SD498878
From Sizergh Castle car park, leave by the footpath gate and walk into a field at the south end, near to the coach parking bays. This field can be very wet and muddy. Walk straight on with the wall on your left. During spring and summer buzzards and pheasants are a common sight along this stretch of footpath, as they nest in the woodland to your left.
Spot a very special visitor lurking in the trees in the car park. Hawfinches are very shy birds, best seen in winter when the trees have shed their leaves. Look out for them on the highest branches. Sizergh is a nationally important breeding site for the bird.
Go through the next gate into another field (which can also be very muddy) and then immediately through another gate to your left, onto Sizergh Fell. Notice the difference between the two fields either side of the fence boundary, where one has been improved.
Wander uphill with the fence on your right and go through a field. The many bumps to be seen in this field are actually ant hills. During the summer the field is filled with magnificent wildflowers, bees and butterflies. You might even be able to spot a green woodpecker feeding on the ants.
Windflowers and ant hills
Purple swathes of field scabious and harebell, and a yellow haze of buttercups, bedstraws and cowslips fill these characteristic ant-hill fields on Sizergh Fell in early summer.
As you continue uphill towards the clump of trees at the top, you pass some hawthorn trees. These are excellent for attracting nesting birds in spring and then fieldfare and redwings in winter, when they are plentiful with berries. Once at the top, stop to admire the amazing view out to Morecambe Bay ahead of you and the Howgills and Pennines behind.
From the top, walk past the clump of trees on the right-hand side. Follow the footpath with the telephone lines on your left and the stunning Lake District Fells ahead of you. Continue across the top and then downhill until you reach a gate in the wall.
Go through the gate and head diagonally on the path towards the left, through the field of ant hills towards the woodland in the distance. Go through the gate into the woodland glade and turn immediately right. This takes you through an area that has recently been cleared to diversify the woodland edge and enhance the butterfly populations. Look out for fritillary species here in the summer.
Fritillary butterfly species fly effortlessly through the woodland glades in summer, basking and feeding in warm open areas. Sunlight encourages the growth of food plants like violets and cowslip on the woodland floor; valuable for egg laying and caterpillar feeding. Trees are cut down in lines called glades, connecting valuable open feeding areas. Sheltered areas provide a rich nectaring source for adults as they feed on brambles.
Continue with the wall on your right-hand side. Many woodland bird species can be spotted here including great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and treecreepers.
Once you get to the end of the wall, turn left and walk downhill, following the wall on your right towards the road, until you reach the gate on the right-hand side. Go through the gate into the field and then downhill to the next one, which takes you onto the tarmaced road.
Turn right, and walk along the road on the right-hand side facing the oncoming traffic for about 550yd (500m). Pass Lane End Farm on your left, a National Trust tenanted farm. Continue until you reach the big wooden gate on the right, and go through onto Ashbank Lane.
Walk along the lane with the hedgerow full of life on your left. Walk through three more gates along the track, with the old deer park wall on your right, heading all the way back to Sizergh Castle and well-earned refreshments at the café!
Sizergh Castle car park, grid ref: SD498878
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