Wild Ennerdale

  • Country:
    UK, England
  • Start year:
  • Location:
    Cumbria, The Lake District
  • Size (ha):
  • Area Type:
    UK, England
  • Type of protection:
    45% Special Area of Conservation or Site of Special Scientific Interest 34 hectares of schedule ancient monument

Ennerdale is a spectacular upland landscape with rock outcrops, extensive woodland, dynamic natural rivers, a glacial lake and highly valued flora & fauna. The Wild Ennerdale Partnership has a future natural vision focussed on releasing natural processes and enhancing the valley’s sense of wildness.

Wild Ennerdale


  • Habitat types: River, lake, ancient woodland, plantation forest, mire, montane sub-mountain and subalpine grassland, scree and exposed rock, pastoral farmland
  • Keystone species present: Red and roe deer, Sitka spruce, sheep, cattle, freshwater mussel, arctic charr, red squirrel, salmon and trout and over 100 bird species.
  • Fauna (mega) species present: Galloway cattle, Red and Roe deer
  • Fauna species reintroduced: Marsh fritillary and starting to plan for Pine Marten reintroduction


  • Description: Rising abruptly out of the coastal plain of West Cumbria this most remote of Cumbria valleys has a distinctive character of its own. There is a sense of tranquillity, ruggedness, self-will, wildness, a feeling more of Scotland or Scandinavia. Here in the English uplands a partnership of organisations is exploring what happens the opportunities for nature and people’ when we allow natural processes greater freedom in deciding the future look and feel of a previously intensively managed landscape.
  • Aim: Allowing the landscape to evolve naturally with reducing human intervention.
  • Vision: To allow the evolution of Ennerdale as a wild valley for the benefit of people, relying more on natural processes to shape its landscape and ecology.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: To see more healthy functioning ecosystem processes driving dynamic habitats and inspiring others to be more natural process and habitat structure focussed.
  • Uniqueness: Wild Ennerdale is one of the UK’s largest wild land partnerships. It is widely recognised for its partnership working, future natural approach and for pioneering innovative ways of upland management which blur boundaries between forestry and farming. In addition, It is a flagship for promoting natural river hydrological process through the River Liza.
  • Results so far: • 17 years of partnership working, shifting focus from piecemeal land ownership to a pioneering one valley landscape scale approach.<br /> • Planting of over 40,000 native tree species and natural uphill expansion of existing native Side Wood.<br /> • Move from intensive sheep to extensive cattle grazing across much of the valley and provided advocacy for wider similar changes in other parts of Cumbria.<br /> • Passionate and enthusiastic volunteer group contribute equivalent of 2 full time staff per annum and act as local advocates.<br /> • New heath land created, and valley bottom mire restoration.<br /> • Reintroduced Marsh Fritillary (Butterfly) now one of the Uk’s largest and most healthy populations.<br /> • Watercourse restoration, restoration of Artic charr population and maintenance of red squirrel population.<br /> • Historic landscape mapping and management plan.<br /> • Recognition of wildland in the Lake District World Heritage Status inscription.<br /> • Pioneering farming and forestry integration.
  • Flagship species: Feral cattle, Red deer, Roe deer
  • Other characteristics: Community involved, Education, Recreational activities, Research, Sale of sustainable products


  • Inspirational value: Wild Ennerdale offers the opportunity to observe, learn and share with others. As we try to operate alongside natural processes we are excited to see how the valley changes and develops. The valleys big 3 landscapes of mountain, forest and water combined with the Partnership’s future natural vision are pioneering in the context of typical upland management in the UK.
  • Experience you would like to share: The River Liza, one of England’s most natural dynamic river systems. Extensive cattle plunging through the river or appearing out of the forest.Spawning Arctic charr, atlantic oakwood “rainforest” and subalpine dwarf juniper and willow remnants. The valleys sense of tranquillity. Partnership working and advocacy, forgetting who owns what and working as one landowner.
  • Experience you would like to gain: More understanding of river and forest natural processes. Best practices in species reintroductions. Approaches to tourism that do not detract from the sense of wildness or impact on natural processes. Local community engagement: opportunities & challenges.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.