Back to reserve map

Lough Cranstal

Once a salt-water lagoon, this slowly drying-out reserve is rich with invertebrates and attracts many bird species

Habitats: Curragh (willow scrub), marshy grassland, open water within an area of peat bog.

Notable species: Greater pond sedge is not found anywhere else on the Island. Knotted pearlwort and water lily is only found in a few other sites on the Island.

Description: Lough Cranstal is a large wet area that was once a lake. It is thought Lough Cranstal formed about 8000 years ago as a salt-water lagoon.

As shingle ridges built up they cut it off from the sea. The salt water from the lagoon would have slowly drained away but fresh water would have run into it from the Bride Hills making a fresh water lake, which was shown on an 1860 map.

A drain was cut some time after this and Lough Cranstal has been slowly drying out leaving a boggy area. The drain empties onto the Ayres near the Ayres Visitor Centre.

The area has not been used for farming in recent times and much of what was once grazing has reverted to impenetrable curragh.

The vegetation in the wet areas includes pondweeds, horsetail, white waterlily, knotted pearlwort and common sundew.

In the marshy areas, there are many types of sedge, including greater pond sedge and greater tussock sedge. The latter is only recorded on a few sites outside the central valley curragh.

Attractive plants include marsh marigold, lady's smock, ragged robin, meadowsweet and purple loosestrife. Heather, cotton grass and orchids grow on tussocks sticking out in the boggy areas. Five species of orchids have been recorded: common twayblade, common spotted orchid, early marsh orchid, northern marsh orchid and heath spotted orchid.

Three spined sticklebacks have been recorded from the peaty pools. The rich invertebrate life and remoteness of the reserve attracts many bird species.

Management: No management takes place at present.

Nearby nature reserves

Ayres Visitor Centre and Nature Trail
2 miles - Manx Wildlife Trust
Cronk y Bing
5 miles - Manx Wildlife Trust
Close Sartfield
8 miles - Manx Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Please note:
This reserve is closed to the public
Map reference
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
2.27 hectares

No access to this closed site
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Tricia Sayle, Reserves Officer
Tel: 01624 844432