Wreay Woods Nature Reserve

(See also Wreay)

Oak tree by Tony RichardsWreay Woods Nature Reserve, located south of Carlisle, encompasses 17.7ha (43.7 acres). The woods are in a steep sandstone gorge along the river Petteril. The footpath is on the east side of the reserve.

Along the steep slopes of the gorge, the woods were not cut, therefore native species survived the fate of the surrounding area which was deforested during the middle ages for agriculture. Further depletion occurred during the 1800s when the timber was sold by owners, the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle, for use as rails, firewood, and gate posts.

Birch trees by Tony RichardsBirch was thinned out, and oak, elm, and beech were thus able to grow easier. Between 1965 and 1973 large scale felling occurred. Today ash, oak, and birch are found in the drier areas, while willow and alder grow in the wet soil of the river banks. Beech and sycamore were added to the mix by man, along with Italian poplar at the southern end of the reserve.

On the ground are bluebells, ramsons, dog's mercury, broad bucker fern, male fern, and bracken. Moshchatel and meadow saxifrage also grow in the reserve. The wet areas along the river are home to yellow iris, angelica, butterbur, meadowsweet, and reed canary-grass. Bluebells in the spring by Charles Winpenny

Woodland birds include long-tailed tit, blackcap (summer migrant), and kestrel. River birds are the kingfisher, dipper, and grey wagtail. Otters are thought to use the river. An occasional roe deer can be spotted.

Wreay Woods Nature Reserve is six miles south of Carlisle between the M6 and A6.Bracken in the fall by Tony Richards

Access: open to all; by road from A6 to Penrith; lay-by on left had side; footpath on right hand side past Scalesceugh hall. Other access by footpath from Wreay village to the west or Carlisle to the north.

Photo courtesy Tony Richards and Charles Winpenny

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