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Caerlaverock NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Caerlaverock NNR to experience dramatic coastal scenery and spectacular birdlife.

 

 

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Getting here

Caerlaverock NNR is on the north shore of the Solway Firth, south-east of Dumfries.

By car

Take the B725 south from Dumfries to Glencaple/Bankend, following the east bank of the River Nith.

From Annan-Gretna, turn left along the A75 towards Clarencefield then right onto the B725 before Ruthwell.

The car parks at Hollands (DG1 4RS) and Castle Corner (DG1 4RU) are signposted Caerlaverock NNR and both have cycle racks. The car park at Castle Corner has a height restriction barrier.

Public transport

The nearest bus stop is at Caerlaverock (2 kilometres) on the Dumfries to Caerlaverock route.

The nearest railway station is Dumfries (13 kilometres) on the Kilmarnock to Carlisle line.

By bike

The Milton to Annan section of NCN Route 7 (Glasgow to Carlisle) passes the visitor centre and car park. A bike rack is available in the car park at Castle Corner.

Map

Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve

Eight miles south of Dumfries on the Bankend Road.

For visitors

Visit Caerlaverock is a good introduction to the reserve.

Facilities

You can explore Caerlaverock from Castle Corner or Hollands Farm. Both offer viewing areas and routes to explore the reserve.

There is also a visitor centre at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust site next to the NNR. The centre has a cafe and toilets. A short walk takes you to excellent hides overlooking feeding areas and the merse in the NNR.

For further information and fees, see the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust website.

Toilets

There are toilets at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust visitor centre. There are also toilets at Caerlaverock Castle, which is managed by Historic Environment Scotland.

Wildlife hides

There is one hide on the boardwalk accessed from the Hollands Park Farm route. The hide overlooks open ground and reed beds.

Picnic areas

There are five picnic tables in the vicinity of Castle Corner, three of which are wheelchair accessible. There is also a standard picnic table at Hollands Farm car park.

Need to know

Permitted wildfowling takes place within a designated area at dawn and dusk from Monday to Saturday between 1 September and 20 February each year. There is no wildfowling on Sundays.

Trails for all

All paths are liable to flooding during the highest tides of the year. Please check the local tide tables displayed on the reserve.

Woodland Wander

Starting at Castle Corner, this is a level path through Castle Wood. There are views through the trees of the merse and mudflats.

Reedbed Ramble

This trail takes you on a circuit through reedbeds to the edge of the merse.

Merse March

This trail connects the Woodland Wander and the Reedbed Ramble to create a longer walk. Wellies are recommended as it is often wet underfoot.

More trails

There are also connecting paths from the Woodland Wander to Caerlaverock Castle and from the Reedbed Ramble to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust site.

You can find descriptions and a map of the routes in the Visit Caerlaverock leaflet.


Seasonal highlights

There is always something to see at Caerlaverock, but the winter months are best for wildfowl.

Spring

As the weather warms the geese are fattening up to fly home to their northern breeding grounds. The song of the male skylark, so evocotive of spring, rises across the merse. In the reed beds the spring migrants start to arrive, with sedge and reed warblers calling as they claim their territories. 

Rare and aromatic holy grass also flowers in spring. Holy grass was used to strew the floors of churches in days gone by.

Summer

On a sunny day the colours of the bog come to life. Rich reds, fuchsias and oranges sparkle in the sunlight. Marsh orchids provide rich dots of colour through the meadows. Dragonflies and damselflies add their sparking colours. Butterflies abound, with plentiful green-veined whites and meadow browns and the occasional northern arches. You can hear rutting roe deer in summer.

During warm summer evenings, you may also hear the occasional calls of the rare natterjack toad. This is their most northerly location in the UK, and they enjoy the shallow pools at the edge of the reserve.

Autumn

Autumn sees the return of the hordes as wintering geese start to make their appearance. Barnacle geese arrive from Svalbard in Arctic Norway, sometimes in small groups and sometimes in droves. Pink-footed geese and thousands of ducks and waders also fly in. Visit the reserve when incoming tides disturb birds’ feeding grounds to see their dramatic flight into more sheltered areas.

Winter

Winter is the best time for birdwatching at. Caerlaverock. You can see the geese in their characteristic V-shaped skeins during morning and evening flights. The sight and sound of thousands of geese in the air at sunrise or sunset is unforgettable.

Make the most of the paths on the reserve for wonderful winter walks.