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Crosscanonby Carr

Crosscanonby

Before it became the first nature reserve in the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Crosscanonby Carr was the site of an abandoned car park. Today, it is a place which has evolved into a mosaic of wetland, meadow and woodland which is a haven for animals, birds and plants.

The word ‘Carr’ comes from the Norse word ‘Kjarr’, meaning wet woodland or marsh, while the name ‘Crosscanonby’ is said to have come about after the land in nearby Crosby was gifted through the church to the canons of Carlisle.

You’ll see huge flocks of wading birds as they roost along the coastland, particularly around the Crosscanonby road end. It’s a lovely spot at any time of year, but if you visit from late February to early May, or in the autumn, you’ll spot thousands of birds passing through as they migrate in and out of the British Isles. Visitors also love to see the yellow flag irises in the summer, and they praise the reserve’s peace and tranquillity.

To the north of the nature reserve are some well-preserved salt pans – extracting salt from sea water was big business here in the 17th and 18th century. This historic area was given some protection in 1997 when the Solway Rural Initiative built rock armour defences around it, though the threat of coastal erosion is ever-present.

Just over Swarthy Hill is Milefortlet 21. It was one of a number of mini forts built by Emperor Hadrian as part of border defence because the open coastline north of Maryport was a weak point in his carefully-erected wall. It has been excavated and parts of it have been reconstructed to give a feel for the scale of the structure which once stood there.

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Crosscanonby Map M
Click on map to enlarge

Getting here…

Crosscanonby Carr sits between Maryport and Allonby, just off the B5300. The Maryport to Allonby cycle trail passes close by so it’s an ideal destination for those exploring the area on two wheels.

Facilities

  • Access for All Trail suitable for those with disabilities
  • Take care of young children and those with limited mobility around the wetlands
  • There are places to eat and drink in Allonby, to the north, or Maryport to the south

Did you know…?

There’s a farmhouse at Crosscanonby which was once owned by Beatrix Potter. It’s called Sawrey Ground and it’s thought it was named after Sawrey, near Hawkshead in the Lake District, where the author once lived.

Look for…

There’s a farmhouse at Crosscanonby which was once owned by Beatrix Potter. It’s called Sawrey Ground and it’s thought it was named after Sawrey, near Hawkshead in the Lake District, where the author once lived.

Salt Pans
Milefortlet 21