Eskmeals Nature Reserve

(See also Drigg)

Eskmeals view of Ravenglass and north west fells by Tony RichardsEskmeals nature reserve, covering 165.5 acres (67 hectares), is at the core of Cumbria's largest sand dune system. Drigg dunes lies just next to it, and they are both Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The Drigg and Eskmeals dunes were formed when the Irk and Esk rivers joined together after being blocked by shingle formed by the sea. Sand accumulated where they joined, and, over centuries, the dunes came into being.

Eskmeals Nature Reserve and oyster catchers by Tony RichardsThe dunes near the sea are mostly clear of vegetation except for a bit of marrow grass. Further inland, heartsease pansy, portland spurge, red fescue, sea buckthorn, and mosses cover them. Pyramidal orchids are established in this area. The valleys are home to thyme, heath dog violet, and ragwort.

The dunes near the sea are mostly clear of vegetation except for a bit of marrow grass. Further inland, heartsease pansy, portland spurge, red fescue, sea buckthorn, and mosses cover them. Pyramidal orchids are established in this area. The valleys are home to thyme, heath dog violet, and ragwort.

Eskmeals Viaduct by Tony RichardsMesolithic flint tools and arrowheads and Roman coins and altars were among the finds at Eskmeals Dunes.

Eskmeals is located near Ravenglass. To reach the reserve by road:
1. from the north off the A595, turn right at Waberthwaite, and proceed through the village, drive under the railway viaduct where you will see a lay-by where you can park. Note: at high tide this route may flood, and you will need to use route 2.
2. from the south off the A595, turn left into Bootle village for Bootle station. After crossing the railway, drive past the gun range and park in the lay-by just before the viaduct.

There is no access when yellow flags are flying due to Eskmeals being a firing range. Ring the gun range gatehouse at 01229 712 200 to check access before visiting.

Photos courtesy of Tony Richards

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