Flora and Fauna

Dubwath Silver Meadows Wetland Reserve

This wetland site at the north end of Bassenthwaite Lake and at the eastern end of the Embleton Valley is a delightful place to see wetland flora and fauna. The seven hectare reserve, constantly fed by Dubwath Beck, also provides a measure of natural defence in relation to the water quality of Bassenthwaite Lake and it reduces the impact of flooding. Water flows naturally and slowly through the reserve so that sediments are deposited in the wetland, rather than being carried by the flow of Dubwath Beck into Bassenthwaite Lake. At times of spate, potentially damaging flood-water and debris is naturally captured, disipated and slowed on its journey through the catchment.

There is a level path around the reserve including 900 metres of wide and stable boardwalk, manufactured from recycled plastic cartons. This path is ideal for pushchair and wheelchair access and easy walking for those with limited mobility. It provides an ideal and safe way to get up-close and personal with the wide variety of wildlife and flora inhabiting the reserve.

There are two shelters/hides adjacent to the boardwalk in the reserve. These have been constructed from traditional, natural materials and are, in themselves, interesting examples of the use of natural materials in a wild setting.

Parking is available next to the entrance to the reserve and also nearby. There are no toilets on site; however, the Pheasant Inn is located only 200m from the reserve’s entrance where food and refreshments may be obtained.

For further information and more details about the reserve and what may be seen there please follow this link to the Dubwath Silver Meadows Website: http://www.dubwathsilvermeadows.org.uk/


The Lake District Osprey Project is a partnership between the Forestry Commission and the RSPB, with the support of the Lake District National Park Authority. The partnership aims to ensure the continued success of breeding ospreys at

Bassenthwaite; to assist with natural colonisation elsewhere in the Lakes; and to

provide visitors to the Lake District with the opportunity to see and find out more about ospreys.

THE OSPREY: A large fish-eating bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 1.7m (5½ft). They are one of the world’s most spectacular and popular birds.


The return of the ospreys to Bassenthwaite Lake in 2001 was the culmination of several years of hard work behind the scenes to encourage them to breed. As sightings of birds on migration increased in the late 90s, so did the thought that one-day these birds may once again breed. It was with this aim in mind that the Lake District Osprey Project partners built a nest platform in Wythop Woods, overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake.

All the hard work paid off in 2001 and to the huge excitement of all those involved, a pair of ospreys took to the platform, nested and successfully reared one chick. For the first time in more than 150 years and as the result of natural re-colonisation, not introduction, ospreys were nesting successfully in the Lake District! The ospreys have returned to the same nest every year since.



The ospreys are normally present in the Lake District from mid-April to late August.

The Osprey Viewpoint runs at the Forestry Commission’s Dodd Wood, near Keswick. The viewpoint offers magnificent views over Bassenthwaite Lake, owned and managed by the Lake District National Park Authority and a favoured fishing area for the ospreys. From here there is a direct view of the nest through high powered telescopes from a safe distance. This is an open air facility (no hide!).

The Osprey Viewpoint is situated 3 miles north of Keswick off the A591 – follow

signs to Mirehouse from the A66. The Viewpoint is 10 minutes walk uphill from the

Mirehouse car park. The Dodd Wood Viewpoint and car park are open all daylight

hours. Staff from the Osprey Project partnership will be on hand with telescopes

from 10.00 to 17.00 every day. When the ospreys are nesting, a video link relays pictures from the nest to the Forestry Commission’s Whinlatter Visitor Centre, which is situated north west of Keswick. Thanks to the help of the BBC, pictures from the nest cam. appear on the LDOP web site at www.ospreywatch.co.uk


Other Bird Species:

Bassenthwaite lake is one of the best places for birdwatching in the Lake District. More than seventy different species of birds breed on or around the lake. These include, Great Crested Grebe, Common Sandpiper, Reed Warbler and of course the famous Ospreys. Bassenthwaite Lake was created at the end of the Ice-Age when errosion silt and glacial debris accumulated in the plain at the northern end of what is now Derwentwater and effectively split what had been one large lake into the two quite different Lakes that we now enjoy. There is a public footpath along the length of the western shore which is ideal for close watching of water species.


Also, locally, watch out for:

Buzzards (Buteo buteo):

Look up at any time of day in the Embleton valley and you are likely to see one or more. The terrain is ideal Buzzard country with woods for roosting, nesting and hunting and open fells and fields providing a larger larder. The Buzzard is one of Britain’s larger birds of prey. Its mewing ‘kiew’ is a familiar sound in hilly country in western and northern Britain, as it soars and cruises effortlessly, rising on a thermal of warm air. A frequent sight in the Embleton Valley is of crows or rooks mobbing and harrassing a Buzzard. Undoubtedly, this is behaviour programmed in members of the Crow family as a defence of eggs and young which are sometimes preyed upon by Buzzards. Nonetheless, given the superior size, as well as the beak and tallon weaponry of the Buzzard, it is surprising that universally Buzzards seem quite unwilling to retaliate to this harrasment but rather seem to be intimidated and to allow themselves to be chased away.


Description: broad, rounded wings, short neck & rounded tail barred brown & grey. Body plumage ranges from dark grey or brown to very pale grey. Yellow, unfeathered legs & brownish hooked beak.

Size: length:- 50-55cm. Wingspan:- up to 1.5m.

Food: small mammals, especially rabbits. Also carrion.


Water Voles (Arvicola amphibious)

 The Water Vole, also known as the water rat, is our largest vole, but is also our most endangered. Beloved by many in the shape of “Ratty” from Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, the Water Vole is presently Britain’s fastest declining mammal.

Water Vole

Intensifying agriculture over the past 50 years has destroyed much of the Water Vole’s bank-side habitat. Small, isolated populations are now extremely vulnerable to further threats such as predation by North American mink, or the effects of floods and droughts. For now, there is a good population of  Water Voles in the Embleton Valley but more widely, Cumbrian Water Voles have suffered particularly severe losses and some ecologists believe that they are in danger of becoming extinct in the county. A joint venture between Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Eden Rivers Trust aims to reverse this decline through the work of the Cumbria Water Vole Project. http://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/watervole/ 


Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris):Red Squirrel

The Red Squirrel is native to Britain, but its future is increasingly uncertain as the introduced larger and more agressive American Grey Squirrel expands its range across the mainland. There are estimated to be only 140,000 Red Squirrels left in Britain and a substantial portion of these are in the Lake District. Grey Squirrels, though, number more than 2.5 million. The Forestry Commission is working with partners in projects across Britain to develop a long-term conservation strategy that deters greys and encourages reds.



Common Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) :

Also known as the Viviparous Lizard because it gives birth to live young, this widespread lizard is small, very quick and most frequently seen on commons, heaths, fells, dry stone walls, embankments and sea cliffs around the British Isles. Typical adult size is approx 15cm (including its tail). Coloration is commonly some shade of brown or green with patterns of spots or stripes. The Common Lizard likes open, sunny places and is usually found in dry situations although, strangely, it is a great fan of boggy, wet fell areas and valleys. It feeds predominantly on spiders and insects and gives birth to tiny jet black live young in August. These gradually turn a copper colour before maturing to the typical adult coloration.

Common Lizards are protected by law in Great Britain against being killed, injured, sold or traded in any way.

Kingfishers: (Alcedo atthis)


Kingfishers are small unmistakable bright blue and orange birds of slow moving or still water. They fly rapidly, low over water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the water’s surface. Not common in the North of England but Kingfishers may be seen along the Derwent, Dubwath Beck and the other small rivers feeding Bassenthwait Lake. Generally, they are found by still or slow flowing water such as lakes, canals and rivers in lowland areas. In winter, some individuals move to estuaries and the coast. Occasionally they may visit garden ponds if of a suitable size.

Dipper: (Cinclus cinclus)

The Dipper is so called because of its habit of bobbing up and down when perched, especially when excited; it has been known to make up to 60 ‘dips’ per minute. It is also called White-throated Dipper to distinguish it from other members of the family. A local name for it used to be ‘water ousel’, ‘ousel’ being an old word for Blackbird.  Its a short-tailed, plump bird with a low, whirring flight. When perched on a rock it habitually bobs up and down and frequently cocks its tail. Its white throat and breast contrasts with its dark body plumage. It is remarkable in its method of walking into and under water in search of insect larvae and freshwater shrimps. Found along fast-flowing rivers, mainly in upland areas but also on lowland rivers. The dipper is exceptional for the ability to find food underwater by walking along a riverbed. They can also swim underwater and are able to stay submerged by using their wings against the current to push themselves down and by holding onto stones with their feet. Although their feet are unwebbed, the birds can still swim across the surface. Other adaptations that help them stay submerged include flaps over their nostrils, well-developed wing muscles, eyes that can function underwater and blood that stores large amounts of oxygen. Spending up to two thirds of the day feeding, Dippers have well-waterproofed and dense feathers that insulate them from heat loss in the water.  As well as walking into the water from a rock or the shore, they will swim and submerge like a grebe, and can even fly straight in.