Warton Crag

Warton Crag

Morecambe Bay from the top of Warton Crag

A pearl-bordered fritillary butterly standing on a twig

Pearl-bordered fritillary by Tamasine Stretton

Mist drifting around tall, thin trees which are growing out of mossy ground at Warton Crag nature reserve in Lancaster

Warton Crag by Wanders Miles

A peregrin falcon perched on a cliff

Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Dominated by limestone cliffs, decorated by wildflowers and colonised by rare butterflies, Warton Crag will leave you spellbound.


Just west of Warton Village

OS Map Reference

SD 494 730
A static map of Warton Crag

Know before you go

35 hectares

Parking information

Free non-LWT car park on Crag Road

Walking trails

Warton Crag rises steeply from the car park, so the walks are quite tough.


Rocky paths and steep walks mean the reserve is, sadly, inaccessible for wheelchairs and those with limited mobility. The area of the LNR around the main car park may be a little more accessible (call 01524 855030 for more information).

Ticks are present in large numbers so please come prepared. Wearing long trousers tucked into socks, and long sleeves, offers the best protection.


Under effective control

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times.

Best time to visit

Spring to Summer

About the reserve

Rising dramatically above Morecambe Bay, Warton Crag marries stunning habitats that have seen the reserve become part of a network of nationally important wildlife conservation sites. Limestone grassland, limestone pavement and ancient semi-natural woodland boast thin, free-draining soils and rugged, rocky outcrops that support an extra special array of species. Bird’s-foot trefoil, horseshoe vetch and kidney vetch create a blaze of colour in May and June. The rich yellow hues of common rock rose and bright pink thyme come later.

Love lichen? Search the rocky outcrops for one of the most important collections of lichen in the whole of Lancashire! Potty about rare plants? You’ll find rigid buckler fern, juniper, pale St. John’s wort and angular Solomon’s-seal flourishing along the limestone pavement.

In Potts Wood and Strickland Wood the moist, calcareous soils are perfect for the beautiful band of ash, hazel, yew, birch and rowan trees that grow there. The wildflowers, too, are a sight to behold. The kaleidoscopic colours of wood anemone, bluebells, primrose, early purple orchids, violets and pignut are particularly spectacular when shafts of sunlight cast spotlights across the woodland floor. Here, Hart’s-tongue, male fern and broad buckler-fern grow alongside trees like spindle, Lancaster whitebeam, goat willow and sessile oak.

Such flourishing flora and unique habitats mean Warton Crag is a paradise for some of Britain’s rarest butterflies. Pearl-bordered fritillary and small pearl-bordered fritillary soak up the sunshine on patches of open, sunlit ground created by woodland coppicing, their larvae feeding on violets in woodland clearings and along bracken edges. You’ll also find dark green fritillary, northern brown argus, wall brown and dingy skipper butterflies at Warton Crag, alongside rare moths including least minor, barred tooth-striped and white-spotted sable.

Insect-lovers can also keep their eyes peeled for nationally notable species of lacewings, beetles and sawflies, and we’d dare any visitor not to get excited by the sight of a common lizard or slow worm!

Contact us

Reuben Neville
Contact number: 01524 855030

Environmental designation

Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)