Derwent Howe (Slag banks) sit above the shores of the West Cumbrian coast, as well as forming part of the town of Workington’s skyline.
A legacy from the days of steel making, the area has been transformed over the years from a man-made mass of by-product, into an area for visitors to enjoy. Views of Whitehaven, the Isle of Man, as well as the Lake District National Park can be seen on clear days.
Nowadays, Derwent Howe links Shore Road and Oldside locations along the coastal network. Funding from the Get Cumbria Buzzing project has provided approximately 60kg of wildflower seed to be sown on the far reaching scrapes, high up above the seashore.
Extensive swathes of wildflowers have been created, through a process of scraping back the top layer of vegetation, and re-seeding with specific varieties. Working in partnership with Butterfly Conservation, specific wildflower varieties have been selected to increase the food source plants for butterflies such as the locally common, but nationally rare, Small Blue butterfly; other less common butterfly species include graylings and gate keeper. These plants include kidney vetch, birds-foot trefoil, ox-eye daisy, knapweed and yarrow.
The scraped earth provides a substrate with little competition for the new seeds. Eventually, self-seeded plants such as cowslips, orchids, thistles and teasels will become established too.
Staff and volunteers from Workington Nature Partnership and Butterfly Conservation, organise an annual recording day, to count and identify the special varieties of pollinating insects, wildflowers and other species that live here.
Depending on the time of year that you visit, do look out for 6-spot burnet moth, shaded broad bar moth, tortoiseshell, and ringlet butterflies. Soldier beetles meeting their mate on common hogweed flowers in July, whilst skylark can be heard singing high above. If you are really fortunate you might catch a glimpse of an osprey fishing!
Access is free all year round.
Access the slagbanks by parking near the pier, at the mouth of the Derwent, turning off from Curwen Road. Alternatively, Prince’s Way will lead you to footpath access from the southern end.
Parking is available.