Finglandrigg Wood is one of the largest areas of semi-natural woodland on the Solway Plain and includes woodland, peat bog, heathland and rough pasture, that is carefully managed by grazing and mowing.
Finding the reserve
The Reserve is approximately 13 km west of Carlisle. Follow the B5307 Kirkbride road, go through Kirkbampton village and after 1.5 km you will see the Natural England signage at Haverlands lay-by on the left. You can park here and continue on foot along waymarked paths onto the Reserve.
From Wigton, the Reserve is approximately 13 km. Follow the B5307 from the Wigton by-pass. Go through Kirkbride and Fingland and approximately 3 km further on is the Haverlands lay-by on the right.
There is a network of marked paths, boardwalks, stiles and a footbridge at the site making the going relatively easy.
A bus service passes the site. For further information call Traveline: 0870 6082608. Cycle racks are available at Haverlands lay-by.
An abundance of wildlife
Red squirrel, roe deer, brown hare and wood mouse can be seen here as well as the more elusive badger and otter. The site has over 40 species of breeding birds including buzzard, tawny owl, willow tit, grasshopper warbler, reed bunting, garden warbler and long-tailed tit.
Insect life is plentiful, with small pearlbordered fritillary, purple hairstreak and ringlet butterflies often seen in summer. You may also find the notable forester and silver hook moths. The rare marsh fritillary has recently been successfully reintroduced to the Reserve. Uncommon plants include the small gorse, petty whin, bell heather and Sphagnum mosses.
A natural history
The whole of the Solway Plain area was carved out during the ice-age, leaving a landscape distinguished by low hills, made up from clays, sands and boulders, called Drumlins. These unique blunt features are characterised by being steep at the eastern end and tapering off to the west.
The higher ground consists of impervious glacial clay and rock with little soil, lower down are the more arable regions, with a peat bog occupying the lowest areas. Although once drained and cut for peat, the bog still has a 2 metre deposit.
The trees here tell the story of the site’s regeneration following its initial role as farmland. Birch and rowan are pioneers, and the first to occupy open ground. The rowan here is already dying back rather than compete with the birch, and willow is also making inroads. Oak and beech may well contend the second, more mature, stage of recolonisation. Scots pines have been here a while, and a healthy population of second generation trees is already established.
The shape of the site owes a great deal to the Enclosure Acts of the late 1700s and early 1800s. During this time much of the common land at Finglandrigg was placed into private ownership, and by the mid 1800s the site was a mixture of small fields, Scots pine plantations and peat bog, with the heath the only remaining common grazing.
Immediately following Enclosure, the site was used for agriculture, but the fields were gradually abandoned during the depression that swept the farming communities in the latter part of the 1800s.
Little Bampton Common was never enclosed, and remains common land under the trusteeship of Kirkbampton Parish Council - Natural England has the sole grazing rights.
The Reserve is managed to maintain the variety of wildlife habitats.
Heather-clad heathland is prone to invasion from trees, but controlled grazing on the Common keeps this in check. There is a small fenced area that illustrates what happens if grazing doesn’t take place.
In the rushy areas, the high water tables are maintained for reed bunting, sedge warbler and grasshopper warbler. More intensive management of the fields encourages devil’s-bit scabious, the food plant of the marsh fritillary butterfly.