Whinlatter Forest and Dodd Wood

These are ostensibly the two Forestry Commission sites for seeing ospreys. It’s also a good place for red squirrels, while the feeders at the visitor centre attract siskins, and otters are occasionally seen at the southern end of the lake. www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/infd-7z8kn6

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) fishing for trout
Osprey fishing for trout. © Andy Rouse/Getty

Wescoe and Burns Wood, Threlkeld

The woodland beside the disused railway line is good for red squirrels. Also look out for roe deer and rabbits, and birds such as nuthatches, coal tits and (in spring and summer) spotted flycatchers. Dippers and grey wagtails use the River Greta throughout the year.


Haweswater RSPB Reserve

Head here to stand a chance of seeing England’s only golden eagle. Another rare mountain bird is the ring ouzel, but it’s only a summer visitor. In summer the oak woods by the reservoir are good for redstarts and pied flycatchers. Red deer can be seen in the area all year round. www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/h/haweswater/

Adult golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) in flight.
Adult golden eagle in flight. © Mark Hamblin/Getty

Derwent Water

On the lake you can see species such as breeding goosanders, red-breasted mergansers, barnacle geese and otters. The woodlands of Borrowdale have important colonies of liverworts and mosses, and red squirrels. Peregrines nest at Falcon Crag. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/borrowdale



Home to an innovative rewilding project, Ennerdale has healthy numbers of both red and roe deer and red squirrels. You can see butterflies such as meadow browns, orange-tips, ringlets and marsh fritillaries, which have been reintroduced to Ennerdale valley. www.wildennerdale.co.uk

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) running along a branch
Req squirrel running along a branch. © Ben Queenborough/Getty


Home to Cumbria’s only population of red kites, Grizedale is also a good place to come for red deer. Brant Wetlands, near the visitor centre, has butterflies and dragonflies, and look out too for barn owls and buzzards. www.forestry.gov.uk/grizedale


Foulshaw Moss

Peatbog fauna include white-faced darters, large heath butterflies and bog bush-crickets. The site is also good for red deer, and, in summer, migrants such as ospreys, cuckoos and willow warblers.


James FairWildlife journalist