Visit the Isle of Man

This vast expanse of shingle beach and sand dunes on the north-west coast from Smeale Beach to the Point of Ayre Lighthouse, the northern point of the Isle of Man, is a wonderful place to walk, watch gannets, seals and porpoises. There’s a small visitor centre with a car park in the middle of the reserve with three marked nature trails that wind through the marram dunes and on to the heath with its extensive lichen flora to discover.

The main feature of the Ayres National Nature Reserve is the extensive area of lichen heath (grey dune) which only occurs in small areas of the UK. The reserve over 780 species recorded – including plants, fungi, birds, spiders, moths, ants etc. It is home to several breeding bird species that are rare or in decline. Linnets, lapwings, skylark and little tern are the most notable breeding birds here. Curlews are seen in the summer and five species of orchid are regularly spotted on the reserve. The Ayres NNR is one of 2 known places where the Isle of Man cabbage can be found. The unusually shaped Moonwort and adders-tongue are two ferns found on the Reserve. You may be lucky to spot a green tiger beetles on one of the Reserves paths or spot grey seals just offshore. Further information on Ayres National Nature Reserve here. There are three easy walks in the Reserve – all detailed in a free leaflet that can be picked up on site.

Photo credit: “Direction sign at Point of Ayre” by shirokazan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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