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Exploring the estate at Sizergh

View of the wetland at Park End from the bird hide at Sizergh, Cumbria
View of Sizergh’s surrounding countryside | © National Trust/Annapurna Mellor

Pull on your walking shoes and explore the wider countryside around Sizergh with its ancient woodland, farmland and abundance of wildlife, as well as a wild play trail for families to enjoy.

Walking at Sizergh

There are several footpaths through the estate taking you through woodland, wetland and limestone grassland. Enjoy far-reaching views across the countryside from the viewpoint at Helsington Barrows; rare flowers and wildlife living on Sizergh Fell, or keep your eyes peeled for wetland birds from the hide at Park End Moss.

A free map detailing three favourite waymarked routes is available from reception.

Guided estate walks

Join a free guided walk to find out what makes Sizergh’s countryside so special. Choose from 'Prehistoric Sizergh' or 'Ancient Trees and Magnificent Murals', and our knowledgeable volunteers will show you some of the best bits of the estate. The walks run every Monday and more information can be found under the 'What's on' section in the 'Things to see and do' tab on this website.

Holeslack Accessible Trail

Running through fascinating ancient woodland, the trail is a circular route, suitable for prams, Trampers, wheelchairs and visitors with reduced mobility. All of the gates are easily accessible, and a large part of the route is fenced off from livestock.

Throughout the year, trees and walls are carpeted in lichens and mosses, and the field next to the path provides food and forage from birds and small mammals. Huge ancient trees are home to hundreds of birds, bats and invertebrates. The traditional Westmorland orchard on the route is full of apples, pears, plums and damsons. From here, you'll glimpse views of the House.

Orienteering

Orienteering is a great way to explore the estate, and the South Ribble Orienteering Club have designed three courses to enjoy at Sizergh. Download the routes below, and use the MapRun app to get started.

Bike hire at Sizergh

Fancy an adventure on two wheels? Pick up your e-bike from Sizergh and explore the Lyth Valley, South Lakes and Kendal - follow local guided routes or plan your own journey. With single or multi-day hire, full training and equipment included, Ease E Ride bikes are a great way to discover our local landscape and travel sustainably.

Explore the Damson Route, a scenic circular meander from Sizergh to Witherslack along quiet country roads and a national cycle path. You’ll be spoilt for choice with coffee and cake stops en-route. Pick up your bike at Sizergh and pre-book through the Ease-e Ride website.

The gunpowder works

Remains of the gunpowder works at Sedgwick on Sizergh's estate.

Sizergh's Gunpowder Works

The gunpowder works at Sedgwick are a fascinating part of the history of Sizergh's estate, and the remains can still be seen today. We've been looking into the hidden histories of the people who lived and worked there.

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Buzzard in southern woods at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire
Buzzard perched on a branch at Sizergh | © National Trust Images/Derek Hatton

Wildlife at Sizergh

The woodlands, wetland and farmland are home to a vast amount of wildlife and it helps to know what to look out for before you set off. Here are some favourites to look out for.

Hawfinch

Sizergh is famous for hawfinches. These elusive birds favour the car park area around the visitor centre and feed on the hornbeam tree seeds. They are best seen from February to early April, when the leaves are not fully out on the trees.

Woodcock

While walking through the woods, you may also flush out a woodcock. The Latin name is Scolopax rusticola, meaning 'rural dweller'.

Their camouflage plumage makes them very hard to see as they sit tight among the leaf litter during the day. Only at night do they give themselves up when they feed in open fields using their long bill to probe for worms.

Buzzard

Look out for these birds of prey when you are walking through Sizergh’s woodlands. They are large birds that often glide on air currents with their huge wings outstretched, looking for small mammals. Listen out for their distinctive cat-like call.

Fritillary butterflies

Sizergh’s estate has a rich and diverse number of fritillary butterflies ranging from the pearl bordered to the high brown fritillary. Countryfile has named Sizergh as one of the best places to photograph these butterflies, and they’re best spotted on sunny days in the summer months basking on the woodland edges and along the brambles and bracken either side of the footpaths.

Young girl building a den at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
Taking part in den building at Sizergh | © National Trust Images/Trevor Ray Hart

Family fun on the Sizergh estate

The wild play trail

The wild play trail is closed due to extensive damage following months of heavy rainfall. The play trail is really popular, and unfortunately the heavy rain mixed with high footfall now means the woodland needs time to recover.

We will be taking the opportunity over the coming months to refresh the play trail to make sure that it stays fun and safe for everyone to enjoy, as well as making improvements that help us look after the woodland.

There's still lots to get stuck into, though - we've extended the Spring Bird Challenge until 1 June, Summer of Play is just around the corner, and there are exciting plans for winter 2024. Find details of upcoming events on our events page.

In the meantime, we need you to help us shape the future of wild play at Sizergh! What would you like to see here? What does ‘wild play’ mean to you? Keep you eyes peeled for a shot survey to help us to make sure that playing at Sizergh is even more fun and welcoming for all. Thank you for your support.

‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’

The wild play trail takes you through Chapel Wood which is the perfect place to tick off tasks on the ’50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activity list.

There are plenty of self-led ‘50 things’ activities such as building a den, racing a snail, hunting for bugs, birdwatching, making your own insect house and much more.

'Build a den' is number four on the ‘50 things’ challenge, and there are plenty of natural materials in the woodland to turn your den into a fort, a pirate ship or a cosy hide out.

Pop into reception at Sizergh to pick up your free ‘50 things’ activity booklet then get out and about and start ticking items off your list.

A family stand looking across a lake with Sizergh Castle in the background

Discover more at Sizergh

Find out when Sizergh is open, how to get here, things to see and do and more

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