Birds of Morecambe Bay
An ornithological exploration including visits to two RSPB reserves
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Choosing the level of your walks
Our easy grading system shows whether a region offer gentle strolls or more challenging routes to help you choose the right holiday for you. Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we grade our walks 1 to 5 (where 1 is easy and 5 hard). Our challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Morecambe Bay is one of the most important areas for birds in Britain. The R.S.P.B.’s Leighton Moss reserve is situated on the bay and is a wonderful place to see large numbers of wildfowl and waders. Marsh harriers and bitterns are also regularly seen at this site. Inland sites such as Sizergh Castle grounds can be a ‘hot spot’ for hawfinches. We’ll also take a leisurely stroll along Morecambe prom, which can provide great views of birds feeding in the bay.
- Each day enjoy a leisurely walk with plenty of stops to see birds and wildlife
- Our expert leader will guide you round the best sites
- A relaxed and informative way of enjoying the great outdoors
- Full-board en-suite accommodation
- Full programme of excursions and visits
- All essential transport
- Admissions to places of interest
- Small, sociable groups of up to 15 guests
Thorns Hall established a foundation in Sedbergh in 1535 and it still retains its historic charm with wood-panelled rooms, fireplaces and a cobbled courtyard outside. It's an amazing house to visit all year round with a lush garden and magnificent hills nearby.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:
Only an extra £20 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
Due to the layout and the age of Thorns Hall, it is not recommended for wheelchair users and guests with restricted mobility.
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
- Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff have received disability awareness training
- Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
- Fridge for medication can be supplied
Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.
You can check-in to your room from 2.30pm onwards (better & best rooms from 1pm). We invite everyone to afternoon tea. This is the first occasion when everyone in the country house meets together – an opportunity to meet your leader and fellow guests, and find out more about your holiday.
Each morning after a hearty breakfast, we get cracking and enjoy a full day absorbed in what we love doing best: birdwatching. Each day we’ll spend most of the day outdoors, enjoying walks of up to 6 miles (10km) with plenty of stops to listen to the birds and enjoy a tasty picnic lunch together. Later on we can enjoy the sociable activities on offer at the Country House or quietly relax in the bar or a cosy lounge.
After a hearty breakfast, we’re off to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, which holds large numbers of wildfowl and waders. It also has breeding Marsh Harriers, Bitterns, and Bearded Tits. We’ll spend some time at the outer hides on the edge of Morecambe Bay, before visiting the main reserve and the nearby Kent estuary. A very full and satisfying day to start our holiday!
Sizergh Castle & Grizedale Forest
Today’s outing promises a few treats for us: First we visit Sizergh Castle grounds, which can be one of the best sites in the area to look for the elusive Hawfinch. Then we’re off to Grizedale Forest to the north of Morecambe Bay - one of the finest mixed woodlands in the area, and often a good site for Crossbills. Later in the day, if time allows, we’ll visit the Leven estuary where vast numbers of waders may be seen roosting.
Hest Bank and the Lune Estuary
We round off our holiday with a visit to Hest Bank RSPB reserve on the east side of Morecambe Bay, another nationally important wader site. Then we enjoy a gentle stroll along nearby Morecambe promenade, very rewarding for birdwatchers at this time of year. Later we head south to the Lune estuary and the saltmarshes, pools, and creeks around Glasson Dock.
Depart after a leisurely breakfast.
What to bring
- Outdoor clothing appropriate to the season, including waterproofs
- Strong, comfortable footwear with a good tread is essential
- A telescope (if you have one) and binoculars (essential)
- Thermos flask (optional)
- Recommended field guide (optional) - the new Mitchell Beazley Birdwatcher’s Pocket Guide
Discover the Lakes and Dales
Sedbergh sits at the foot of the Howgill Fells, a peaceful corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The centre of Sedbergh is just a few minutes walk from Thorns Hall. The town has a range of facilities including a small supermarket, post office, newsagent, pubs and a bank. Now famed as England’s ‘book town’, Sedbergh has many second-hand book shops and a good range of pubs and cafés. A wider range of facilities are available in the larger town of Kendal, about 10 miles away.
During your visit to Thorns Hall you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:
Situated near Kendal, about 25 minutes' drive from Sedbergh. Sizergh Castle is a fine medieval house, surrounded by beautiful gardens. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sizergh
Visit this stately home, famous for its magnificent formal garden and its topiary displays. Levens Hall is south of Kendal, about 30 minutes' drive from Sedbergh. www.levenshall.co.uk
Settle to Carlisle Railway
Ride England’s most scenic railway through the Yorkshire Dales from Garsdale station, about 10 miles from Sedbergh. Heading south you could cross the famous Ribblehead viaduct and visit Settle, Skipton and Saltaire. Heading north you could head to the small market town of Appleby, or the border city of Carlisle. www.settle-carlisle.co.uk
Hawes & Wensleydale
A 30 minute drive through the Yorkshire Dales will take you to the small town of Hawes. Visit the famous creamery that produces Wensleydale Cheese. You may want to continue through the valley of Wensleydale, well known as the setting for All Creatures Great & Small. www.wensleydale.co.uk
The market town of Kendal, about 20 minutes' drive from Thorns Hall has a good range of specialist shops.The excellent Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry is also worth a visit. www.lakelandmuseum.org.uk
A 40 minute drive will take you to Lake Windermere, gateway to exploring the beautiful scenery of the Lake District National Park. Here you could take a steamer trip on the lake, or visit the visitors centre at Brockhole. www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk or www.brockhole.co.uk
Travel to Thorns Hall
Our address is: Thorns Hall, Cautley Road, Sedbergh, Cumbria, LA10 5LE
The nearest train station is Oxenholme, the Lake District, on the main line between London and Glasgow. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.
HF station transfer - great value!
Our station transfer operates between Oxenholme railway station and Thorns Hall every Saturday and Tuesday (Friday and Monday in the low season). The pickup is at 4.30pm from Oxenholme station. On departure day the transfer will get you back to Oxenholme station by 10.00am. The transfer is £18 return, but a place must be reserved at least 14 days in advance by calling our Reservations team on 020 8732 1220.
If you can’t meet our station transfer, the 10 mile journey from Oxenholme station to Thorns Hall can be made by taxi. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £27 for a 4 seat taxi per journey. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Thorns Hall Manager.
Leave the M6 at junction 37 and follow the A684 eat for 5 miles to Sedbergh. On reaching Sedbergh follow the road round to the right into Finkle Street (avoiding the main street), then almost immediately turn left at a small roundabout into Back Lane. At the next mini-roundabout bear left onto the A683 following signs to Kirkby Stephen. Thorns Hall is a further 100 yards along the road on the left. Look out for our sign. A car park is available in the grounds with free parking.
Travelling from overseas
For most guests the most convenient option is to book a flight to Manchester Airport. There are direct trains every hour from Manchester Airport to Oxenholme - this is straightforward journey - allow 1½ hours to Oxenholme. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
From Oxenholme station you can complete the journey to Sedbergh using our transfer or by taxi (see above).
Flying to London Heathrow airport is another option, but has a longer onward train journey - allow at least 4 hours to reach Oxenholme. From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. Next take the Underground train to London Euston. Finally the main line train from London Euston to Oxenholme takes 2½ hours. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times.
Russell is an experienced nature tour guide and has a great passion for all sorts of wildlife. After studying Animal Conservation at University, he was keen to offer relaxed and informative outdoor experiences that would bring people closer to the natural world. Following work as an Education Officer and Head of Education at a local animal centre and Blackpool Zoo, he now works in and around the North West running nature tours in a wide range of habitats, each with a unique cast of characters to enjoy.
Russell is an excellent leader. He is very knowledgeable on all aspects of the natural world. He knew the island and the exact areas where we were likely to find certain species. Russell was very professional, well organised and good company.