Cumbria Crack

Why did the toad cross the road?

[I]t may still seem like the depths of winter, but buried underground, in log piles and compost heaps across the county, amphibians are dreaming of spring, and West Cumbria Rivers Trust is getting ready for a new season of toad patrolling around Keswick. This year they want to be poised with a team of trained volunteers, buckets, head-torches and high-vis at the ready. Will you step-up to save lives?

Every year, amphibians like frogs, toads and newts, migrate from their winter hibernation areas to their breeding ponds. The route they take may be one that has been used for generations. If these routes cross busy roads, then the animals are at high risk of getting run over. Every year across the country, thousands of animals die in this way.

Toad patrollers are a special group of volunteers who emerge only when conditions are right; it must be dark, above 5ºC, and wet. They walk up and down known amphibian crossing points and rescue animals from one side of the road, put them in a bucket, and place them safely nearer their breeding pond on the other side.

There are two such crossings near Keswick, one on the A591 besides Bassenthwaite Lake at Dodd Wood, and the other at Nest Brow, near Low Nest Farm on the A591 heading towards Thirlmere. Last year animals started to move early and volunteers found over 250 animals dead, but were able to rescue more than 700 animals over 18 evenings. This year, the patrol would like more volunteers so they can cover both sites for more evenings and make sure they save more animals.

Rebecca Neal, West Cumbria Rivers Trust’s Education and Outreach Officer who looks after the Keswick patrollers said “Everyone can help by simply slowing down in these areas, and if you’re really keen, come out and join us. If you know of other places where amphibians are being knocked down, please let us know or get them registered with Froglife. Froglife is the amphibian and reptile charity that coordinates the volunteer effort. ”

To kick-start the season, West Cumbria Rivers Trust is running a talk on amphibians in conjunction with local expert Johnnie Walker, at 7pm on Thursday 18th January at Lake Road Chapel Hall in Keswick. The talk is part of a series of free events about our local lakes and rivers. Find out more at:

Find out more about volunteering at or get in touch with Rebecca Neal on [email protected] or 017687 75429. Please note that due to the nature of the volunteering, it is not suitable for children.

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