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Things to do at Arnside and Silverdale

Group of people in brightly coloured puffer jackets and raincoats walking through the woods at Arnside and Silverdale.
A woodland stroll at Arnside and Silverdale | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Covered with limestone grassland and mixed woodland, Arnside and Silverdale is an area of national importance for wildlife such as butterflies, glow-worms and wood ants, and also home to an array of rare and beautiful wildflowers. From valley views and coastal paths to historic woodland and ideal birdwatching spots, find out why it’s so special here.

Geese flying over the lake in winter at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire
Listen for geese honking as they fly overhead. | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Autumn highlights at Arnside and Silverdale

Walk to the top of Arnside Knott to take in the colours of autumn across the landscape stretching out below. The autumnal hues aren't just on the trees – spindle, ivy and rowan berries bring splashes of red, while fungi on the ground in Eaves Wood catch the eye with flashes of orange, red and yellow.

Look out for wildlife fattening themselves up for winter, such as the squirrels and jays collecting acorns in the woodlands. You can even enjoy your own autumn harvest with the many blackberries and hazelnuts around now.

Listen for geese honking as they fly overhead, having journeyed over land and sea from places like Greenland and Siberia to winter on the lush, damp grasses in Europe.

Climb Arnside Knott

From the top of Arnside Knott, you can see across the rolling hills and peaks of the Lakeland Fells and the Yorkshire Dales, down into Lancashire and right out over the sands of Morecambe Bay.

Sit and enjoy the view, or carry on along the different paths that take you down to Red Hills Wood or Heathwaite.

Go wildlife spotting

The mix of wildlife that you can see across Arnside and Silverdale is like no other place in the country. The area offers the perfect habitats for combinations of species that wouldn’t ever exist together elsewhere.

The coastal climate, woodland, limestone pavement and grassland all help to make this area perfect for so many species. The thin limestone soils are home to a variety of rare and unique plants and wildflowers that are at the very north of their range. These species mix with those at the very south of their range, making the sites here a unique place for anyone interested in wildlife.

Visit in any season, and look and listen out for wildlife all around you.


Wildflowers flourish in the limestone grassland and spring woodlands across the many different sites at Arnside and Silverdale. We manage the sites carefully so that flowers are able to thrive. Over half of the flowering plants and trees in the whole of England can be found here.


The limestone hills at Arnside and Silverdale are the most important areas for butterflies in northern England. This is quite a claim, but the coastal climate, limestone pavement and grassland, and the varied woodland all help make this an area rich in wildlife.

Over 50 per cent of all the butterfly species in the UK have been seen here. That's 32 species in total, including clouded yellows, high brown fritillaries, purple hairstreaks, red admirals and the northern brown argus.

Scotch Argus butterflies landing on marjoram
Scotch Argus butterflies at Arnside and Silverdale | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Wood ants

Glance down and you'll see a tiny world beneath your feet. Busying themselves in their hundreds, southern wood ants carry twigs and egg sacks. These insects are very special to this area, and Arnside Knott and Eaves Wood are at the very northern tip of their species range.

If you listen carefully, you can hear their shuffling noises as they climb up trees to collect their favourite treat: sticky honeydew made by aphids.

Wood ants become inactive below 10 degrees and cannot reproduce below 20 degrees, so one of their biggest priorities is keeping a warm nest.

Their nests can contain up to 100,000 ants and look like huge mounds of woodland debris made with twigs and needles. They’re usually built around the trunk of a tree, in places carefully chosen to be warmed by the sun’s rays on one side and protected from the wind and rain on the other. They might look haphazard, but they're carefully positioned and full of industry.

A Shetland pony in a field on the side of Arnside Knott

Discover more at Arnside and Silverdale

Find out how to get to Arnside and Silverdale, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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