Park End Moss wetland
Park End Moss was once an area of degraded farmland which has now been transformed into a haven for wildlife. This walk takes you through historic parkland and ancient woodlands and on to the wetland area which is popular with a variety of bird species.
Sizergh Castle, near Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 8DZ
Leave Sizergh car park at the north side and take a left onto Ashbank lane, which is an old drovers track. As the track goes up hill, admire the two large sweet chestnuts on the left side. The lane rises and the drops down to a large gate, which is hung from some impressive limestone stoops.
These limestone stoops mark the entrance to the old deer park, they now play host to an impressive collection of lichens and mosses.
Go through the gate, onto Flashbank, which was an old deer park dating from around 1700. Follow the track as it hugs the old deer park wall, until you come to a large field gate. Go through the gate and continue on the track.
Go through another large deer park gate and cross Brigsteer Road, into a small informal car park in the wood. Go around the gate crossing the track at the back of the car park and follow it into Brigsteer Park Wood. This wood has a long history of being managed as a coppice and there is evidence of old charcoal burning platforms throughout the wood.
Follow the track down into the wood, past an information sign on your left. When the path forks take the left route, which goes downhill. The whole woodland is on a west facing slope, which means it gets lots of sunshine. Coppicing (the woodland practice of cutting a tree down to a stump, so that it'll put out multiple new shoots) breaks up the dense tree canopy, allowing sunshine to reach the woodland floor. This creates the ideal growing conditions for many species of plants and flowers, making it an ideal habitat for many species of butterfly, in particular the Silver Washed Fritillary.
Brigsteer Wood is an important habitat for many butterfly species. Keep your eyes peeled on sunny days from April through to September.
Follow the path to the bottom of the hill, and take a right onto the public footpath at the bottom of the wood. Almost immediately you'll come upon a small spring to cross. This is a level path, which is just above the catchwater for the Lyth Valley. Follow this path all the way through the wood, until you reach a gate onto Park End Meadow.
If you would like to visit the Park End Wetland hide take a left, through a gate and onto the track that leads to the hide. Otherwise, follow the path up the hill and across the field, until you are at a gate opposite Park End Farm house.
Park End Wetland is a small wetland project which is maintained mainly through the controlled grazing of the site by some hardy Galloway cattle. One of the project's aims is to showcase how farming wetland can work hand in hand with providing a rich habitat for wildlife.
Cross the road, walk through the small farmyard and follow the path up the steep hill towards a couple of houses and the beck. Once at the top, pause to catch your breath and enjoy the views behind you over the wetland and beyond to Morecambe Bay.
Go through the gate and turn right up a track, which comes out at the bottom of Church Fell. Follow the path to the right as it stays close to the wall. This brings you out onto a stoned track. If you turn left you can walk towards St. John's Church, where there is a toposcope, benches and brilliant views across to the lakeland fells. Otherwise, follow the track past a cattle grid and down the hill.
Follow the track as it comes to an old farmhouse (Holeslack) and a farmyard. Cross through the farmyard, which is flanked by a traditional orchard, and keep on the track as you go through a large gate across the track. Historically, all of the farms had an orchard close to the farmhouse. Apples weren't the only fruit to grow here, usually these orchards were planted with Damsons on the north and west boundaries, to help protect the less hardy fruit trees from the worst of the weather.
Once through the gate, there's another small gate on your right which takes you down a few steps and onto a footpath through Rash Spring Wood. Follow the path all the way through the wood until you reach a barn with a small yard.
From the small yard, you should be able to see the castle. Go through a large gate and out onto a track which heads downhill along the side of the field. At the bottom of the hill, keep straight, through a gate onto a smaller stoned footpath which leads you back to the main car park at Sizergh, where you began.
Sizergh Castle, near Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 8DZ
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