Know before you go
Parking informationPay car park on-site
Warton Crag rises steeply from the car park, so the walks are quite tough.
Rocky paths and steep walks mean this reserve isn't ideal for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times.
Best time to visitSpring 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, small pearl-bordered fritillary and high brown fritillary all 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 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!