Lake District Osprey Project


In 2001 ospreys made a momentous return to the Lake District, after being extinct in England for decades. The ospreys now return from Africa to their nest near Bassenthwaite Lake each spring and more than 19 chicks have fledged since they returned.

The visitor viewpoints at Dodd Wood are great locations for watching the birds fishing in the lake.The viewpoints are open to visitors from April to August and volunteers are on hand to provide information and answer questions about the birds.

Big screens in Whinlatter Visitor Centre show live close-up pictures of the nest throughout the season, thanks to new camera systems. The cameras also help staff and volunteers monitor the nest and carry out round-the-clock surveillance to protect the birds from disturbance and egg collection.

The ‘Osprey Bus’ runs during the season allowing visitors to travel around Bassenthwaite Lake and visit the osprey sites without needing to use their cars. Visit Cumbria County Council’s website for the timetable (Bus 74)

Funds raised support the nest protection work, and help develop the project’s educational facilities, bringing the birds to as wide an audience as possible.


Fix the Fells

Fix the Fells is a partnership programme between the Lake District National Park, National Trust, Natural England, Lake District Foundation, Friends of the Lake District and Cumbria County Council to repair erosion scars which have developed over the years, and to make sure that these scars are prevented in the future.

The Lake District fells are enjoyed by millions of walkers every year but the high level paths can be surprisingly fragile and the sheer number of visitors leave a mark on the landscape. Over time grass is compacted by heavy foot traffic and dies. Heavy rainfall quickly washes away the exposed soil down the steep slopes into streams, rivers and eventually the lakes, where the increased amount of silt causes havoc for fish and other species.

The work being done aims to prevent this loss of grass and soil by designing and creating paths that are resilient to wear and tear and reduce the impact on the surrounding landscape. On steep slopes you may see ‘pitching’ where stone has been laid, while on less steep slopes the paths may have been repaired by a ‘soil inversion’ technique with the aid of a digger.

Take a look at what the teams have been up to recently:

Red Squirrels Northern England

The red squirrel is our only native British squirrel but is at serious risk of extinction if population numbers continue to decline. The main cause of this decline is competition with the American grey squirrel, an introduced species which is larger than the red and better able to survive harsh weather and occasional food shortages. It also breeds more successfully and quickly out-competes its red cousin for food.

Cumbria is one of the few counties in the country where red squirrels can still be seen and RSNE is working to protect and increase numbers. They are working with landowners to carry out conservation work to benefit the reds in 5 designated red squirrel reserves at Whinlatter, Thirlmere, Greystoke, Whinfell, and Garsdale/Mallerstang.

The project supports networks of volunteers and contractors to carry out grey squirrel control in these reserves, and their 5km buffer zones, and train volunteers to assist with population surveys and monitoring. They provide education programmes and web-based teaching materials for schools, and work to raise the profile of the red squirrel through educational walks, talks and events for the wider community, signs and interpretation panels at the reserves, their website and local media.

Take a look at the great work that RSNE carry out, thanks to the support of our fantastic fundraisers:


Barkbooth Lot Nature Reserve

Barkbooth Lot

Barkbooth Lot Nature Reserve is situated near the head of the Winster Valley and covers 27 ha of diverse habitat, including rough fell land, oak woodland, meadow and tarns.

Staff have worked to repair walls and fences and add gates so that livestock and deer are kept out of some areas to protect the oak woodland from grazing and allow an understorey of plants to develop. Bluebells carpet the floor of the woodland in spring.

The meadow area is being restored by planting with native species. Scrub is controlled to maintain areas of open grassland that are needed by rare butterflies such as the high brown fritillary. The bracken is controlled in summer  and is grazed by cattle in winter to stop it keep it under control.

Damselflies and dragonflies are numerous around the tarns on Barkbooth Lot and interpretation panels give visitors information about Barkbooth Lot and a path system has been created. Take a look at the great work our fundraisers have supported recently:


Cumbria Outdoors John Muir Award

John Muir

The John Muir Award encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places through a structured yet adaptable scheme. It encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.

The Award is the main engagement initiative of the John Muir Trust. You can find out more on the John Muir Award website.

Cumbria Outdoors use the John Muir Award with young people aged 7-19. Through activities to enjoy, explore and understand the outdoors they raise awareness of the importance of conserving wild places. As part of this the young people take responsibility for the environment through hands-on activities such as footpath maintenance, woodland management or non-native invasive species control. The Award isn’t competitive but challenges each participant.

Funds are also used to help people get involved who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to do so due to a range of social disadvantage. Take a look at what our fundraisers supported last year:


Dubwath Silver Meadow Wetland Nature Reserve


Dubwath Silver Meadows is a new nature reserve which has been created as part of the Heritage Lottery funded Bassenthwaite Reflections programme.

This seven hectares wetland site was once part of Bassenthwaite Lake and is now home to a range of special wetland flora and fauna.

There are access-for-all paths and boardwalks which take you around the site. Walk through living Willow Hides and stop off at replica Celtic and Norse style shelters. Look out for rare and not so rare plants, flowers and birds and if you’re quiet you could come across the resident roe deer or maybe even a badger if you come at night! Be very quiet and you may spot the Red Squirrels feeding at their hazel nut feeders! Whatever the season, there’s always something to captivate and inspire.

Take a look at what our fundraisers have helped support:


Experience the River

Experience the River

South Cumbria Rivers Trust works to protect and conserve the aquatic environments of South Cumbria. In order to achieve this they provide a local education programme aimed at giving the both the local population and visitors an appreciation of our waters and an improved environmental awareness

‘Experience the River’ days give children from local schools a chance to visit their local rivers, observe the river habitat and sketch and describe the river and wildlife they find there. They have a go at river dipping and use nets, trays and identification keys to find and identify creatures in the river. They investigate the riverbank habitat by collecting plant samples, making rubbings of tree bark and recording any insect life found. They also draw cross sections of the river by measuring the river width and depth. Inspired by the river visit the children then create paintings based on their findings. Funds raised for this project provide for the environmental education of local schoolchildren.

Take a look at the work supported by our fantastic fundraisers:


Fix the Fells Our Man at the Top

The National Trust has four teams of upland path workers, working on fell paths throughout the Central, Eastern, Northern and Western lakes. Over a number of years the teams have evolved into an experienced and highly skilled workforce

To build a sustainable path and recreate a natural landscape, team members must be part craftsperson and part artist. Several new techniques have been developed, and path workers from around the world have visited them to learn new skills and benefit from their expertise.

From March to November, the teams work full-time on the fells, interspersing project work with minor repairs and general maintenance on the whole path network. They often do a week’s work in four days to reduce time lost when walking to remote sites. During the winter the teams move down into the valleys and work on fencing, walling, hedge laying and tree planting on National Trust properties.

These teams consist of local people, providing much needed jobs into local communities. The cost of maintaining each team member is £20,000 per annum. This includes equipment, waterproofs and other costs.

Fix the Fells Our Woman at The Top

Fix the Fells

It is great to know that we have our first woman, Sarah Anderson, who works with one of the four teams of upland path workers, working on fell paths throughout the Central, Eastern, Northern and Western lakes for the National Trust.

From March to November, the teams work full-time on the fells, interspersing project work with minor repairs and general maintenance on the whole path network. They often do a week’s work in four days to reduce time lost when walking to remote sites. During the winter the teams move down into the valleys and work on fencing, walling, hedge laying and tree planting on National Trust properties.

These teams consist of local people, providing much needed jobs into local communities. The cost of maintaining each team member is £20,000 per annum. This includes equipment, waterproofs and other costs.

Take a look at what Sarah has been up to over the past year:

OWATT Project Update

Flowers and Fells Fund

Surveying meadows

The Lake District’s landscape is a patchwork of habitats. Our meadows and peatlands add to the diversity of plants and wildlife we find here, but need our help to be restored back to their former glory.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust works with farmers and small holders to enhance, restore and manage flower-rich hay meadows in the area, using traditional practices to increase plant diversity. They also promote the landscape of hay meadows through events, educational workshops, walks and talks.

Hay meadows are important for the plants they support. A hay meadow can support an incredible 50 plant species/sq. metre! Traditional meadows are still found in Cumbria, where higher altitude meadows support specialist plants species, such as wood crane’s-bill and many of the lady’s mantle species, and lowland meadows, are characterised by a rich diversity of more common plant species. Such a wealth of plant species can in turn provide habitats for many different animal species including the brown hare, insects such as the great yellow bumble bee, and birds such as skylark, curlew, lapwing and twite.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust is also helping protect wetlands across Cumbria, demonstrating new restoration techniques and building partnerships to protect Cumbria’s peatlands. The project is working on a wide range of important wetland habitats including fens, blanket bog and lowland raised mire. The majority of these habitats occur on relatively deep peat soils which are collectively known as peatlands … but these peatlands urgently need careful management to reverse the damage caused by drainage, heavy grazing, regular burning, cultivation, forestry and other management.

Restoring the balance of nature in our peatlands benefits both people and wildlife:

  • Carbon storage

Peatlands are the UK’s largest carbon store – with 28.5 million tonnes in the Lake District alone. Our damaged peatlands are decomposing, releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

Water quality and drinking water.

70 per cent of UK drinking water is from upland (generally peat dominated) catchments.

  • Flood control

If the Sphagnum moss is damaged, the surface dries, crumbles and cracks in summer; later rapidly eroding during severe weather. Blocking drains slows run-off, whilst wetlands in valleys store floodwater.

  • Archaeology

Peat has preserved remarkable ancient graves and wooden artefacts that haven’t survived elsewhere.

  • Wildlife

Fascinating specialist species including carnivorous plants have adapted to the harsh peatland environment. Many have population strongholds in Cumbria. The most threatened species depend on the wettest bogs or need large areas of continuous habitat.

Take a look at the great work our fundraisers have supported recently:

Living Seas

Living Seas Projects

Living Seas. What picture does the phrase conjure up? A rocky reef bursting with brightly coloured fish, corals and sponges? A boat trip in the company of leaping dolphins and playful seals? Fishermen hauling nets that are brimful of big, tasty fish? Living Seas are all these things and more.

But the UK’s seas are not Living Seas. Decades of neglect have left them damaged and degraded, a shadow of their former diversity and abundance. We urgently need your help to bring them back to life. The next five years are critical. It is literally ‘make or break’ time. With new laws and Government commitments in the offing, we have a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. If we make the very best of that opportunity, pushing every step of the way, our seas will turn the corner and start to recover their health. If we do not, they will continue on their downward spiral

Living Seas are The Wildlife Trusts’ vision for the future of the UK’s seas. Within Living Seas, marine wildlife thrives, from the depths of the ocean to the coastal shallows.
In Living Seas:

  • Wildlife and habitats are recovering from past decline as our use of the seas’ resources becomes environmentally sustainable.
  • The natural environment is adapting well to a changing climate, and ocean processes are helping to slow down climate change.
  • People are inspired by marine wildlife and value the sea for the many ways in which it supports our quality of life.

Marine Protected Areas

Our seas are suffering from overfishing, exploitation for resources and damage to natural habitats. Marine Protected Areas – parts of the sea where wildlife and habitats are protected – are key to the future health of our seas, their ecosystems and wildlife.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are places at sea where human activities such as fishing are restricted. They are a tried and tested means of conserving habitats and wildlife at sea and there are many around the world. MPAs don’t just protect wildlife. They can have an influence beyond their boundaries, as growing wildlife populations spill out into the surrounding (non-protected) sea. In the UK there is a well-researched example of this at Lundy in the Bristol Channel where lobster in a ‘no-take’ zone were growing to be larger than those in the surrounding fished area as they were protected from fishing. Eventually the lobsters in the surrounding fished area became larger as they spread out from the area excluded to fishing.

If they are in the right place and part of a wider well-managed network of protected areas, MPAs can bring even greater benefits, improving the overall health of the marine environment and helping it recover from past impacts and sustain current pressures – living seas. To achieve this, MPA networks must protect not just rare and threatened wildlife, but the whole range of ‘typical’ habitats and wildlife found in healthy seas. For us in the UK this includes habitats like our cold water reefs, seagrass meadows, kelp forests and sandy, gravelling or muddy sea floors.

Take a look at the great work our fundraisers have helped support recently:

Living Seas Project Living Seas Project

Small Grants Fund

Our Small Grants Fund allows us to give grants of up to £1,000 to local community groups and organisations for small scale projects which make a difference to local communities. These sorts of projects often otherwise struggle to find funding.

We have supported numerous small projects over the years. Here are some examples:

Windermere and Bowness Civic Society’s Millerground Enhancement Project. Millerground is a publically accessible area on the Windermere lakeshore, 2km north of Bowness and includes footpaths, viewpoints and access to fields and woodland. The area has been neglected and become overgrown and underused by the public as a consequence. The work, involved a wide range of volunteers from Age UK and local schools to remove overgrown vegetation to open up the area to wildflowers, restore footpaths, and replace and install picnic benches.

Giggle Alley Centenary Project. This is an area which lies on a small knoll adjacent to the village of Eskdale Green on the western edge of the Lake District National Park. Extending to nine hectares the mixed woodland has within it a hidden Japanese Garden dating from 1914. Our support enabled the Garden to be maintained for access and enjoyment by the public.

Hincaster Woodland group’s ‘Access to Mabbin Wood’ project. This application was to create a pedestrian gated access from Mabbin Wood Lane into the Hincaster parish portion of the wood.

Take a look at more recent projects here:

2014/15 – 7 projects


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