Leighton Moss RSPB reserve

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Greylag geese at Leighton Moss.

Leighton Moss RSPB reserve is a nature reserve in Lancashire, England, which has been in the care of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds since 1964.[1] It is situated at Silverdale near Carnforth, on the edge of Morecambe Bay and in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Leighton Moss contains the largest area of reedbeds in north-west England, which are managed to prevent them drying out and to prevent saline intrusion from the coast. It provides habitats for many species of wildlife, including bitterns and red deer. As a wetland of international importance, it was designated a Ramsar site in 1985. It is an Important Bird Area.[2]

The RSPB reserve also protects an area of Morecambe Bay, where a saltmarsh provides a habitat for birds such as avocets.[3]


In 1822 the moss came into the possession of Richard Gillow, grandson of the Lancaster furniture manufacturer Robert Gillow. Using steam technology, Gillow drained the moss for agriculture. By 1918 it was flooded again. Drainage appeared to have become uneconomic, and the area was used for duck shooting.

The RSPB initially leased the moss and then purchased it from the Leighton Hall estate.


The reserve is entered through the visitor centre (a converted farmhouse) containing a shop and a tea-room. The centre also contains an education room.

There are seven observation hides, which were renewed in 2012 with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. One is named after comedian Eric Morecambe.[4] There are also nature trails.

Media interest[edit]

In 2013 Leighton Moss hosted the BBC's Autumnwatch programme.[5] The programme is due to return in 2014.[6]

Opening times[edit]

The reserve and visitor centre are open daily all year round (except Christmas Day) from 9 am to dusk and the visitor centre from 9.30 am – 5 pm (4.30 pm November–January inclusive). Entrance is free for RSPB members and those who come by public transport. Silverdale railway station is just a few minutes' walk away.


  1. ^ UNITED KINGDOM Ramsar Site 323
  2. ^ Birdlife International. "Important Bird Areas factsheet: Leighton Moss". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Avocets flourish". BBC News. 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  4. ^ "Eric Morecambe's daughter brings sunshine...". Westmorland Gazette. 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Silverdale's "ancient aura of wildness"". Lancaster Guardian. 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "BBC's Autumnwatch". Westmorland Gazette (www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk). September 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Denwood, Andy (2014). Leighton Moss: Ice Age to Present Day. Lancaster: Palatine Books. ISBN 978-1-874181-98-9. 

External links[edit]