New Badger Watching Hide and Spinning Barn restoration at Wild Haweswater

Today we’re excited to have opened our new Badger Watching Hide here at Wild Haweswater, following hard work from our dedicated team of staff and volunteers to construct it this winter, ready for the busy summer season.

The Badger is one of the UK’s most recognised and popular mammals, bringing pleasure to thousands of people and is a living symbol of the British countryside. As the sun sets over Haweswater, Cumbria’s native woodland residents emerge for their nightly foraging escapades and the comfortable, custom-built hide offers a unique opportunity to observe and photograph these secretive mammals in the Lake District National Park at close range. And as the viewing area has lighting, you can continue Badger watching well after sunset. 

We opened our first Badger Watching Hide in 2019, which proved popular among wildlife photographers, couples, families, and groups of friends alike. However, a new hide was needed for the 2024 season, due to the old hide being located next to a traditional Cumbrian Spinning Barn here, where work has also just begun to create another exciting new visitor facility. 

The new Badger Watching Hide, made possible thanks to funding from the Icthius Trust, is just one of the unique ways that you can experience the special wildlife of this impressive Lake District landscape.

One of the Wild Haweswater Badgers, image taken by Alison Bamber

Badgers are an iconic mammal of the British countryside, but due to their night time activity, often people have never seen one. Our new hide has been built overlooking an area that is already frequented by Badgers, so we know it will offer visitors the very best views of these secretive mammals.

The success of our Badger watching experiences at Wild Haweswater is in no small part down to our brilliant team of volunteers who help to welcome visitors here.  This is all about giving the public a unique nature experience, with one of the UK’s most iconic, but secretive mammals. To see these beautiful creatures up close (they can come within a metre of the hide), is a truly magical experience for people of all ages.

Unfortunately, many people have never seen a live badger, due to the threats facing them on the roads.

Sadly, thousands of Badgers are killed on Britain’s roads each year and March to May is particularly risky for badgers, as cubs emerge in the spring, and badgers roam further for food, and possibly mating opportunities, in the Autumn. Being alert to wildlife, particularly on country roads, and especially around dawn and dusk can really help make a difference.  We’re delighted this new badger experience will help more people understand the threats but also experience the joy of seeing these beautiful creatures.

Dr Hannah Trayford, Campaigns and Research Manager at the Badger Trust

This new hide has been made with accessibility in mind, with ramps being installed for wheelchair users, and a parking space right next to it, so that once restoration work on the Spinning Barn is also completed, which will include a new accessible toilet, a more inclusive Badger watching experience will be available.

Along with the new Badger Watching Hide, work has also just begun to restore a traditional Cumbrian Spinning Barn, to create an indoor space for groups visiting Wild Haweswater. Thanks to a £135,000 grant from FCC Communities Foundation, the Spinning Barn will be restored to its original appearance and create a new community and visitor hub. This will be an indoor space for hosting groups and events as well as providing information to those visiting the RSPB’s office base at Wild Haweswater.

This converted Spinning Barn will make a difference to locals and visitors alike. We already get lots of groups from nearby, around Cumbria and further afield coming to find out more about our conservation work here.  This means we will be able to provide a dry, comfortable place for group visits and our existing events and experiences programme, as well as being able to offer new events such as wellbeing activities and we’re looking forward to this taking shape over the next year.

The old Spinning Barn, c.1920s with timber supports for the spinning gallery.
Work has begun on to restore historical features to the Cumbrian Spinning Barn, and to turn it into a visitor space. Image taken by Visitor Experience Manager Annabel

Our Badger Watching Hide is live for bookings now and experiences are available between April and October, Tuesday-Saturday, by pre-booking through the Wild Haweswater website here:

The Badger Hide is just one of several, special nature experiences on offer at Wild Haweswater, all designed for visitors to have fun but also to encourage better understanding of the challenges being faced by our native wildlife and crucially how to help.  Over £15,000 income has been raised by offering the Badger viewing experiences since this was first trialled in 2019 and this income is used to fund our ongoing conservation work here at Wild Haweswater. 

From Dawn Chorus and Meadows Day guided walks and wild camping experiences with native Cumbrian Fell Ponies to photographing Red Squirrels and woodland birds in the magical temperate rainforest of Naddle Forest, more nature events and experiences can be found here:

Discover more about the work of the RSPB and United Utilities at Wild Haweswater here:

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– Blog by Annabel Rushton, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager at Wild Haweswater

Badger in the Buttercups at Wild Haweswater, taken by Denise Godsmark
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