Enjoying the Barrow Coast the Natural Way
Guidelines from Natural England on how to enjoy local coastal areas:
Barrow-in-Furness’s has a wonderful coast., which is very popular. Barrow has two National Nature Reserves (NNRs) on its doorstep, North Walney NNR, managed by Natural England and Sandscale Haws NNR, managed by the National Trust. Cumbria Wildlife Trust manages two other Nature Reserves at South Walney and Foulney Island.
Much of Barrow’s coast is internationally designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its rare and important wildlife. All these sites are great places to see wonderful wildlife; one plant, the Walney geranium, is unique to the area. The sand dunes at Roan Head and North Walney are home to a number of specially adapted plants, such as bloody geranium, sea spurge and sea holly. The dunes also attract many rare species of insect and some of these are a source of food for the natterjack toad; these are rare in Britain and almost a quarter of the British population of natterjack’s live around the Duddon Estuary.
The ungrazed salt marshes of the Walney Channel are awash with colourful flowers in summer. Thrift and then sea lavender and sea aster alternately colour the marshes pink and pale purple. The vegetated shingle of the Duddon Estuary and Walney Island, which characterise this shoreline, is nationally rare and contains specialised plants such as sea kale, sea sandwort and sea rocket. These plants are very sensitive to being trampled on and once damaged may not recover again.
Shingle is a natural moving sea defence, which helps to protect us from high tides and storms. It also, provides ideal nesting grounds for wading birds such as the ringed plover. Their nests are well camouflaged and difficult to see and so are vulnerable to being trodden on. Dogs may easily find the nests, so keeping them on leads particularly during the breeding season will help us to protect these nests.
These wonderful wildlife sites are very important to the people of Barrow Borough and also attract large numbers of visitors to our area. Coastal areas are open to everyone for quiet enjoyment of the wildlife, the sense of open space and the superb landscape.
Motor vehicles including quad bikes, motorcycles and 4x4 drive vehicles are also, being used for recreational purposes. Inappropriate use of these vehicles not only presents a danger to walkers and children using the beaches but can also damage the habitat and disturb the wildlife.
Natural England has been working in partnership with Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the National Trust, Cumbria Police and Barrow Borough Council to minimise the adverse impact of off -road vehicles on the natural environment. Signs interpreting the local wildlife were erected last year to help people appreciate the wealth of wildlife surrounding the town
Police in South Cumbria will be providing additional patrols in the areas of the coastline where people are known to be carrying out illegal ‘off-road activities’. Inspector Malcolm Woodhouse, said, “There are no places in the Furness area where there is permitted public access for people to use their mechanically propelled vehicles off-road. As local residents we all have a vested interest in protecting these unique areas for the benefit of present and future generations.”
All visitors are asked to please follow these guidelines on how to enjoy the wildlife whilst minimising disturbance. You can help protect wildlife by:
- Parking in approved and designated parking areas.
- There should be no need to use your vehicles on the beach.
- Looking out for breeding birds
- Most birds will tell you when you are getting too close through alarm calls or broken wing displays.
- Keeping dogs under control.
- When you are on the shingle please keep your dogs on a lead particularly during the breeding season.
- Using a pair of binoculars if you want a closer look at birds and wild animals such as seals.