Ever since discovering the Pearl bordered fritillaries at Warton Crag earlier this year I’ve become a little bit obsessed with this big lump of limestone overlooking Morecambe Bay. Sitting at the southern edge of the Lake District and bordering the RSPB’s Leighton Moss reserve, Warton Crag hides well in the shadow of its more popular neighbours. Fortune favours the bold, however, and for those brave enough to take a chance on an underdog, they will be rewarded with a butterfly bonanza.
Wildflowers cover Warton Crag from head to toe, from the delicate harebell to pollen-rich valerian and beyond. Colour engulfs the crag everywhere you look.
One of the other reasons why I love this place so much is because it has given me a bit of a winning streak recently – with 3 visits I have been rewarded with 3 new species of butterfly, so as I set off for my fourth visit beneath a heavy grey sky I couldn't help but feel my luck was coming to an end.
The views from Warton Crag are special in every direction. Looking north will take you to the edge of the Lake District, while Lancaster and its River Lune are found to the south. Morecambe Bay and the dramatic Irish Sea meet you in the west, while the Yorkshire Dales sit quietly to your east.
When I arrived at Warton Crag I was met with some heavy skies and complete silence. The majority of visitors to this local nature reserve tend to be butterfly enthusiasts, and so on a cloudy day they usually opt for something better to do with their time: a thought that was now crossing my mind.
With my climbing shoes in my bag (always a good fallback if wildlife refuses to play) I began to make my way up the crag to the fern forest that lies at the top, a hotspot for fritillaries and an all round good spot to get lost.
Within moments of arriving there was movement. I had never seen so many ringlets! Walking near the ferns would kick up a butterfly every 2-3 steps, and I counted over 20 butterflies in the space of 10 minutes.
Warton Crag comes highly recommended. Whether it's butterflies, birds, panoramic views or just some nice walking, it's a beautiful part of the world, and you never know - maybe you'll come away having seen a new butterfly.