Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve



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The dramatic open landscape of the Caerlaverock NNR borders the vast mudflats of the Solway Firth, and is most famous for providing a winter home for thousands of wading birds and wildfowl. From September onwards, thousands of barnacle geese from Svalbard in Arctic Norway, along with vast flocks of pink-footed geese and thousands of other ducks and waders, descend on the reserve. Winter is probably the best time to visit for birdwatchers. Then you’ll see the geese in their characteristic V-shaped skeins during their sunrise or sunset flights, and the sight and sound of these thousands of geese is unforgettable. But Caerlaverock is not just famous for its wildfowl. During warm spring evenings, the reserve echoes to the eerie, rasping calls of the rare natterjack toad. This is its most northerly UK location, where it mates in shallow pools. The merse (mudflats and saltmarsh) is dotted with colourful wildflowers, while skylarks soar above and breeding waders, like the bar-tailed godwit and knot, defend their territories in acrobatic aerial displays.

Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Dumfries & Galloway

Dumfries and Galloway is a wonderfully undiscovered corner of Scotland – a romantic land of wooded glens, high hills and exposed moorland, haunted by its colourful past and the ghosts of those who fell in fierce and bloody battles. Heading west from Gretna Green you soon reach Dumfries, straddling the River Nith, where you may see red-breasted mergansers in summer.

The market town has strong associations with one of Scotland’s most famous sons, Robert Burns, who farmed nearby and returned to Dumfries towards the end of his life. You’ll find Burns-related visitor attractions around town, plus a portfolio of other sights ranging from ruined castles and abbeys to quirky museums. You can see for miles from the Camera Obscura, which occupies the top floor of the 18th-century windmill.

To the north lies a vast and endless landscape; mile upon mile of open moorland and afforested slopes stretching towards the Ayrshire coast. On the long haul to Stanraer, you’ll want to make regular stops and visit places like Gatehouse of Fleet, a delightful 18th-century planned town, and Creetown, a planned village on the estuary on the River Cree. Perfect for walking and fishing, Dumfries and Galloway seems gloriously untouched by 20th-century progress.

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