Bassenthwaite Lake National Nature Reserve



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Hundreds of birds including the magnificent osprey migrate from Africa to the Arctic to Bassenthwaite Lake NNR – the only actual ‘lake’ in the Lake District. More than 70 different kinds of birds breed around the lake in summer. The woodland fringes are home to redstarts, willow warblers and redpolls. Common sandpipers, locally known as ‘willy wickets’, arrive from Africa in April. Oystercatchers come inland to breed on the open stony shores before returning to the coast. You also might be lucky to see the ‘floating’ nest of the great crested grebe, or a red-breasted merganser nesting under a bush or fallen tree. Ospreys hadn’t nested in England since the 1830s until 2001, when the Lake District Osprey Partnership built a nest platform above the lake to encourage them back. You can see the osprey nest from a safe distance at the Dodd Wood open-air nest viewpoint, three miles north of Keswick off the A591. Fish such as Atlantic salmon and sea lampreys also come to spawn in the lake and its tributaries.

Bassenthwaite Lake National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Cumbria

Cumbria's rugged yet beautiful landscape is best known for the Lake District National Park that sits within its boundaries. It’s famous for Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake, and Derwent Water, ‘Queen of the English Lakes'. This beautiful countryside once inspired William Wordsworth and his home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere is a popular museum. Another place of literary pilgrimage is Hill Top, home of Beatrix Potter, located near Windermere. Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here.

Much of Cumbria is often overlooked in favour of the Lake Distirct. In the south, the Lune Valley remains as lovely as it was when Turner painted it. The coast is also a secret gem. With its wide cobbled streets, spacious green and views of the Solway Firth, Silloth is a fine Victorian seaside resort. Other towns along this coastline include Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport. Carlisle is well worth a look – once a Roman camp, its red-brick cathedral dates back to the early 12th century and its 11th-century castle was built by William Rufus.

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