Sandscale Hawes Beach
Know before you go
Parking information39 space pay and display car park including two disabled parking bays. Charges are only from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Charges are £1 per hour, £2.50 for 3 hours and £5 all day.
Boardwalk, from car park to beach, accessible to wheelchairs.
Strong currents make the beach unsuitable for swimming. When walking, it is advisable to avoid the dangerous inter-tidal area of the estuary due to deep channels, quick sand and a rapid incoming tide.
When to visit
Opening timesAll year round
Best time to visitJune to September
About the reserve
What makes Sandscale Hawes so special?
The beach is home to numerous rare plants, butterflies and wildflowers along with an estimated 15% of the UK's natterjack toad population. It hosts a complete range of other British amphibians, including smooth, palmate and great crested newts and common lizards. Look for herons and little egrets feeding from the dune slack pools.
Clouds of common blue butterflies feed here, as does the dingy skipper; silvery grayling, wall brown and dark green fritillary flit silently through the sandhills throughout the summer. Dragonflies, such as the emperor and four-spotted chaser, hunt among the ponds and marshes.
Over 600 plant species have been recorded across this 700-acre reserve. In the dune slacks, grass of parnassus and round-leaved wintergreen shine white; while bee, Northern marsh and coralroot orchids are dune specialists. Low-growing sea holly is common here, and delicate dune pansy glows purple across the area.
Throughout the year, the mudflats and sandbanks offer a banquet for birds, including ringed plovers, terns, turnstones and oystercatchers, skylarks, whitethroats and pipits. Raptors include peregrines, buzzards and hen harriers. The winter months are the best time to see birds in big numbers, with 70,000 knots, redshanks and dunlins feeding amid small flocks of sanderlings.
What to do
Come along to see the stunning views across to Lake District, and why not do some beachcombing whilst here? Alternatively come along to do some bird watching and practising your butterfly and plant identification skills. Feel free to pop into the welcome hut and read up on some information about local wildlife, all whilst having some snacks and drinks.