Studying at the University of Cumbria, I get the best of everything. Carlisle is a bustling city with all the facilities and resources a student needs, but nestled amongst the city are pockets of forest, river and grassland. Drive just a few miles out and you have access to the coast, vast expanses of woodland and beautiful nature reserves.
So, for a student like me who is passionate about wildlife photography and writing, Cumbria in the North West of England is the perfect place. If you’re an avid photographer or just enjoy a walk outdoors, have a read of my favourite spots to enjoy in this beautiful area. For more inspiration see VisitCumbria.
The Ennerdale Valley boasts some of the most vibrant natural environments in England, and has been part of one of the longest ecological restoration projects in the UK. The Wild Ennerdale Partnership is determined to minimise human impact on the landscape and ensure the valley stays as wild as possible, while still being enjoyed by responsible visitors. The restorative work in the valley makes it one of those few naturally wild places, and is breathtaking to see.
One of our first-year trips was to Ennerdale Valley, and I couldn’t believe how untouched the landscape looked. The hills were a patchwork of different shades of green dusted with snow at the very top, and luckily, we’d visited on a beautiful day so the sky was a vivid blue. Down at the water’s edge, we could see straight through to the rocks below, indicating just how clean and pure the water was. There were so many photo opportunities that day, and definitely a location I’d recommend for landscape shots! For more information on the work Wild Ennerdale is doing in the valley, check out their website.
With the Lake District attracting 15.8 million tourists every year, it’s easy to forget that, although the Lakes are beautiful and well worth a visit, there are other parts of Cumbria with just as much wildlife, stunning scenery and photographic opportunities.
Carlisle is the county town of Cumbria and amongst its high streets and residential areas, a lot of wild places can be found. The rivers Eden, Caldew and Petteril wind through the city, breaking up the drab grey and giving wildlife space to thrive. Otters frequent the River Eden, and although I’m yet to see one out and about I’ve been lucky enough to capture photos using remote camera traps and see their footprints in the sand a mere few metres from a busy pedestrian bridge.
Just outside the heart of the city is Watchtree Nature Reserve, where a diverse variety of mammals, birds and invertebrates can be seen. Roe deer stalk the forests, while brown hares bound at astonishing speeds across the fields. If you’re lucky you’ll see a glimpse of red foxes between the trees when the sun sets, perhaps accompanied by scruffy cubs during spring time. For a list of things to do at the reserve - from attending guided walks to hiring bicycles and enjoying the reserve at a faster pace - see Watchtree’s website.
- By Rebecca Gibson