Wildlife in the Lake District

26 July 2021

The Lake District is packed full of beautiful wildlife. Whether you choose to go hiking in the hills and mountains or take a stroll around a lake, there are so many creatures and critters to look out for, like the elusive red squirrel or the majestic deer.

If you’re planning a trip to the Lakes this summer and want to do some wildlife spotting, here are some of the places guaranteed not to disappoint.


Grizedale forest can be found in the heart of the Lake District; it is an expansive woodland that stretches between Coniston Water and Lake Windermere, providing you with abundant wildlife. It is a popular spot for outdoor pursuits, with a Go Ape high ropes course and eight walking routes ranging in difficulty levels from easy to hard. Mountain bikes can be hired locally at the visitor centre so you can take in the full breadth of wildlife while on the go or admire some of the Grizedale Sculptures that sit in the forest.

Grizedale is known for having a wide variety of animals. It is home to England’s only indigenous red deer herd that can be sported throughout the year – though their beautiful red coat turns grey outside the summer months. If you’re lucky, you may also spot the elusive red squirrel or the majestic red kite soaring above you in the skies.

Red squirrel


Buttermere is a village that lies between the lakes of Buttermere and Crummock Water. Surrounded by beautiful fells, the lake is a popular spot for visitors, offering one of the best round-the-lake walks in the Lake District. Spring is an incredible time to explore this part of the Lakes, as nesting birds are active, providing food to their young. Sandpipers lay their speckled eggs onto the lakeshore, making them vulnerable to humans and dogs, so the footpath will be restricted during this time of year.

The water is home to the arctic char and brown trout, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some otters returning to the area. In the surrounding fells, you are liable to see a flock of Herdwick sheep with their distinctive brown coats.

Herdwick SheepKeswick

Keswick is a popular place to visit due to its proximity to Derwentwater and some of the Lake’s best fells, making it a great starting point for fell walkers. With a tiny population of just 5,000, the town is a major centre to tourism with the fells as a significant draw, though the town has its own attractions like the Keswick Museum & Art Gallery, Theatre by the Lake and Friars Crag.

Due to its close proximity to fells and other villages, it is the perfect place to visit to search for wildlife. Red and roe deer can be found in the woods by the village of Threkeld, and Derwentwater is home to a healthy population of otters that can be seen playing in the rivers that feed the lake. As for birds, you can spot osprey in the woodland close to Keswick.


Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere are urban settlements on the edge of Lake Windermere. This town is one of the Lake’s most popular tourist destinations thanks to its high-profile attractions like the ferry rides and the World of Beatrix Potter. It is a great destination all year round, and with the lake so close, you are never far from fantastic scenery or stunning wildlife.

During winter, you can catch birds like the goldeneye and tufted duck. The lake is also home to the largest range of aquatic plants in the Lake District, such as the six-stamened waterwort and white water lily. You can spot huge crops of daffodils in the spring on the grass verges and any green spaces. If you keep an eye out, you may also spot a red squirrel in the woods around Windermere.

A springtime view of Lake WindermereUllswater

Ullswater is a lake close to towns like Penrith; it is incredibly accessible and a popular spot for tourists. It is also close to Aira Force, a popular waterfall in a Victorian park full of streams, towering trees and magnificent woodland glades. Ullswater is a great place to hunt for wildlife, with its hay meadows, mossy woodlands and the surrounding fells and crags.

Aira Force is a great place for red squirrel spotting, with feeders placed throughout the woodland to encourage them out. A herd of red deer can also be found on the southeast shore of Ullswater on Martindale. They can be found at any time of year, but especially in autumn when the stags’ calls echo over the valleys. For birds, you can spot pied flycatchers and redstarts in the spring around the edge of Ullswater, having made the journey from West Africa.

Red deer stagZoos and Wildlife Sanctuaries

If you want guaranteed wildlife without having to break out the binoculars, there are plenty of zoos and wildlife sanctuaries dotted throughout and close by the Lake District for the whole family to enjoy, including:

  • South Lakes Safari Zoo – Ulverston
  • Lakeland Wildlife Oasis – Milnthorpe
  • Lake District Wildlife Park – Keswick
  • Lakes Aquarium – Ulverston
  • Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre – Lowther

Lemur at Wildlife OasisFor your next luxury holiday cottage in the Lake District, Lake District golf break or dog friendly cottages in the Lake district keep an eye out and see just how many species of birds, flowers, trees and animals there are to see. If you’re looking for group accommodation in the Lake District or cottages with hot tubs, browse our luxury cottages today.

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