Where to see and photograph wildlife around Carlisle
February 22nd is National Wildlife Day and what a better way of celebrating this day than to go out around Carlisle and see and photograph some wildlife and maybe take some photos with your phone camera or some other camera.
Carlisle has some great locations for photographing wildlife but of course this year when going out and about we all need to adhere to the national lockdown rules and be sensible. Keep 2 metres apart from others, wash our hands or take hand sanitiser on the walk in case you need to touch gates or other areas people may have touched, and wear a mask in any indoor areas, or if the outdoor area is crowded.
7 Great Carlisle locations to see and photograph wildlife
Here’s a list of some of my favourite locations in and around the city of Carlisle, wherever you go it is worth wearing old shoes or boots as many of the paths are wet.
- Hammonds Pond a former brick-pit, was developed in the 1920’s by a local resident called Archie Hammond. The pond on Blackwell road, the road to Carlisle Racecourse is a great place for watching the wildlife either by yourself or with the family. The pond usually has a number of ducks feeding on it, swans, mallards, moorhens and coots along with a number of other birds. (For information about feeding the ducks please see a post in the next week). The path around the pond is not very long and you can decide to go all the way around or halfway around and back across a little bridge. There are a number of entrances to Hammonds pond but the main entrance has a large car park so is the one I usually use when I go to take photographs.
- River Eden riverside walk, set in the middle of Carlisle, behind Bitts Park and Victoria Park the River Eden walk can sometimes be a bit muddy, but is a great walk if you are in town. Parking is usually in the paid town car parks, but currently works are going on near the parks so you might find the closest car parks are closed. The walk runs from Eden Bridges where you can get down to the river, along to just before the bridge for Stoneyholme.
Whilst the river is quite fast flowing you do sometimes get ducks on it, along with birds like terns and gulls. In the trees you will probably see lots of little birds flying around and sometimes you might even see one of the grey squirrels that seem to have started living in and around Bitts Park. If the river walk is too wet then why not just walk along the tree-lined path. (Mayor’s Drive), even though quite a few people use this path it is still a good place to watch some of the wildlife.
- The Bay in Denton Holme and riverside walk. At the bottom of Denton Street, past the Keltic Rose Photography studio is The Bay, a large waterfall built-in 1864 to regulate the flow of water into the mill-race, which local factories used as a source of power along with water to be used in some of the manufacturing processes. In the early morning, you will often see a heron around the bay, and as you walk up the river, along the path you might catch sight of some ducks and definitely some small birds flying in the hedges. There are a number of walks along the river, depending on how long you want to walk for. One of my favourites is to cross the bridge before the bay and walk up the river, until you get to another bridge then cross over and come back past the Stead McAlpine textile factory. You may be lucky enough to spot an otter, or a dipper or even a weasel. If you don’t fancy such a long walk then you can maybe go up past the bay keeping to the right of the river, and then go along the path which leads through to Richardson Street and back through the streets.
- Carlisle Cemetery is an amazing place for seeing wildlife, such as grey squirrels, roe deer, rabbits, owls and lots of different birds. You might even spot one of the elusive red squirrels which I am told are in the cemetery. There are many different walks around the cemetery and if you have a dog please do remember to keep it on a lead. A cemetery may seem a really odd place to go for a walk but as long as you are respectful of the surroundings you will have a really good time and hopefully see lots of wildlife.
The herd of deer is probably my favourite animals in Carlisle Cemetery, I know a number of people that haven’t seen them, but I think if you go quite early in the day before too many dog walkers have got out then you have a really good chance of seeing them. Try not to get too close to them as they will run off but if you spot them you can slowly follow them around for quite a while, and hopefully get some great photographs
- Kingmoor Sidings Nature Reserve One of the entrances for this Carlisle wood is very close to Austin Friars school, down Etterby Road from there, and along Balmoral Court to a small car park. (Currently, Stainton Road is closed, so you might need to use the road from the bypass roundabout to get to Stainton then to Balmoral Court). The nature reserve runs alongside the main train line and is the site of a former very large railway depot. If you look carefully you might spot a turntable, old rails and the floor of the depot overgrown by nature. The sidings have now been reclaimed by nature and is now overgrown with silver birch trees which are a great environment for many different birds and small wild animals. The walk has a pond that holds Great Crested Newts and the longest walk is probably ¾ of a mile bit again the paths can be a bit muddy. In the summer months, the sidings are a great place to see lots of different butterflies and has a raft of flowers such as wild orchids, vetches and birds foot trefoils.
- Etterby Scar The path known as Etterby Scar leaves Scotland Road just next to the entrance to Carlisle Cricket Club and climbs slightly uphill, the is a path on the right-hand side which takes you down to a holy well called Hysop Holme Well, my dad who was brought up in the area always called this “Izzy Pom Well” so I don’t know if this is an adaptation of the original name. You will see all sorts of birds around the hedges, and might if you go out just as it gets dark you might see some bats flying around. You can always make this a round trip by coming back along Cavendish Terrace, or just back along the scar.
- Engine Lonning just off Newton Road in Carlisle was once a busy railway yard, which closed in the 60’s and has overgrown and now has a number of paths across it, some leading down to the River Eden and round past the site of the canal and power station and other leading up towards the Carlisle bypass road. Unfortunately, the Waverley Viaduct still has a fence across it so it shouldn’t be crossed but there are still a number of other paths around.
Within minutes of going off the road you are in amongst railway relics such as a turntable, sleepers and old rails. The site originally had a coal chute (many called the Donald Duck), a watering station and engine sheds. Wildlife is very varied and ranges from hedgerow birds, ducks on the river, perhaps a kingfisher, rabbits, otters, sea trout, weasels and stoats and if you are very lucky you might spot a deer, or badger, fox or even one of the owls that make themselves known at dusk.
Carlisle has some fantastic places to see wildlife, and many of them are great places to use as backdrops for outside photo sessions. If you are interested in an outdoor family photo session, or a photo session of your animals then please get in touch.
Where do you like seeing wildlife in Carlisle? Comment below with places you like to go to photograph wildlife.