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Freshfield Dune Heath

The single largest lowland heath site in Lancashire.

A 35ha mixture of lowland dune heath, acidic grassland, woodland and scrub and the single largest lowland heath site in Lancashire.


History: Agricultural land in the 19th century; became a golf course in 1908 then requisitioned to create RAF Woodvale in 1941 and subsequently used for army training. Purchased from the MoD by the Wildlife Trust in 2004.


Habitats: Freshfield's 17ha of dune heath comprise 9% of the national total of this very rare habitat. Heather, Sand Sedge, Wavy Hair-grass and Sheep's Fescue are the dominant vegetation but a number of other specialist plants occur, including Heath Grass, Heath Rush, Bird's-foot, Heath Bedstraw and Narrow Buckler-fern. 250 plant species recorded. Gorse forms an integral part of the heathland landscape; willow scrub is scattered throughout. Woodland predominantly birch and pine. The ancient Wham Dyke drains the site, flowing inland into Downholland Brook.


Insects and other invertebrates: Almost 1000 species recorded, including 300 types of moth. Notable species include Northern Dune Tiger Beetle and Goat Moth. The spectacular Emperor Moth can be seen flying during the day in late May and early June.


Reptiles: Common Lizards are frequent; the rare Sand Lizard has been recorded close by and almost certainly occurs on the site.


Birds: 75 species recorded. Typical heathland breeding birds include good numbers of Whitethroats and Linnets; woodland breeding species include Woodcock, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Kestrels and Buzzards hunt the heath. Rarities recorded include Sardinian Warbler, Barred Warbler and Firecrest.


Mammals: Large numbers of Short-tailed Field Voles occur, along with shrews, Stoats, Weasels and Foxes. Red Squirrels are frequently sighted in the woodland and a small colony of Water Voles lives in the Wham Dyke.


Freshfield Dune Heath is one of our reserves that allows well-behaved dogs on leads. Our dog-friendly reserves are featured on Bauwow, a brilliant app where pooch lovers can find great places for their pets. Click on the Bauwow logo for more details.

Species and habitats

Grassland, Heathland, Woodland

Nearby nature reserves

Haskayne Cutting Nature Reserve
4 miles - The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside
Lunt Meadows
5 miles - The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside
Seaforth Nature Reserve
8 miles - The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Freshfield Dune Heath
Map reference
SD 298 081
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Opening Times
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35.00 hectares
Reserve manager
Fiona Whitfield
Tel: 0151 9203769