VISITORS to South Walney Nature Reserve on the southern tip of Walney Island can be forgiven for thinking they’ve slipped back in time.

Here, nature rules and the rumble of cars is a distant sound. Rare animals roam the landscape and birds visiting from Africa soar overhead.

The reserve’s remote location is perfect for those looking to get lost in nature and lose track of time for a few hours. It’s also one of the best places in Cumbria to spot some of the lesser-seen jewels in the crown of British wildlife.

Home to the only grey seal colony in Cumbria, in summer the island’s charming fluffy residents can be seen sunbathing on the beaches; best viewed through binoculars, you can also catch a glimpse from the comfort of your own home via ‘Seal Cam’ on the nature reserve’s website.

Short-eared owls, notable by their daytime appearance, can be seen swooping over the island’s saltmarshes all year round.

The flora and fauna of South Walney Nature Reserve consists of several protected species including the European otter, two types of colourful sandpiper — Greenshank and Redshank, and the melodious willow warbler, a tiny bird weighing just 10 grams which makes the trip between Walney and South Africa twice a year.

Reserve Warden Sarah Dalrymple says living and working on the island is ‘wonderful’. She said: “We’ve got stunning views and amazing wildlife, it really is beautiful.”

South Walney Councillor Helen Wall thinks the island is “magical”. She said: “The nature reserve is one of my favourite places on earth. It’s got a wonderful atmosphere, tucked away on the southernmost tip of Cumbria. It’s really special.

“The flowers are one of my favourite parts, particularly the viper’s bugloss. In June, these vibrant blue flowers line the pathways and they’re just beautiful. I’m forever taking pictures of them.

“We’ve also got one of the best picnic areas in Barrow, with a spectacular view and great facilities, which many people don’t know about! I would urge visitors to come this summer.”

South Walney Nature reserve is open daily 10am to 5pm (4pm in winter), admission is £3 for adults and £1 for children. For more information, head to