Know before you go
Parking informationThere is currently no formal parking for the site but there is limited roadside parking along the Winter’s Gibbet road and some parking in Elsdon village which is within walking distance.
There are no paths on site. The reserve is remote and wild, and the weather can change quickly. Visitors should have hill-walking experience if attempting long walks. Much of the ground is very uneven and/or boggy. This can be especially difficult in poor weather. A few parts of the site have inhospitable terrain, altogether unsuitable for access. Wellingtons or good walking boots should be worn and great care is advised when walking on site.
The main entrance to the site is from the Winter’s Gibbet road, through the gates of the old sheep pens. There is then open access on foot across the reserve.
When to visit
Best time to visitSpring to autumn
About the reserve
A relatively new reserve for NWT, this interesting, large site, features multiple habitats thus attracting very rich wildlife. There is blanket bog with recorded peat depths of up to 4.5m (that’s 4500 years of peat formation), marshy grassland, acid flushes, transition mire and a mosaic of heathland and acid grassland. There are babbling burns, sprouting springs and even a limestone stepped waterfall.
There is an abundance of plants and animals, with dragonflies, rare butterflies, adders and otters present. Curlew, skylark and meadow pipit nest here and you can even catch a daytime glimpse of the yellow-eyed, short-eared owl as it hunts over the moorland. There are rare butterflies such as the small pearl-bordered fritillary and large heath. It is also a paradise for botanists – many plants with characterful names such as bogbean, butterwort, limestone bedstraw and grass of Parnassus. The bogs nurture their own specialists such as cranberry, sphagnum mosses and round-leaved sundew.
The reserve was purchased in May 2019 after public appeal raised over £75,000 and was added to a considerable amount of money from charitable trusts, businesses, private donations and a bequest by the late George Swan, emeritus professor of organic chemistry at Newcastle University. The bequest was specified for use in buying a site of botanical importance. Plans for the long-term management and visitor access arrangements for this reserve are in progress. Options being considered include areas of native woodland, and suitable levels of conservation grazing. These have been discussed at public consultation. Work has already been carried out to remove self-seeded Sitka spruce and the few damaging peatland drains will be blocked. We have also started undertaking surveys to understand the site and its wildlife better.