5 of the Best – Nature Reserves

Blog written and researched by @tom_ashurst and @richiewear13
Bempton Cliffs

There can’t be many natural sights more impressive in Yorkshire than the 350 ft high white cliffs of Bempton – it’s an absolute beauty to behold. There’s no better time to visit it, than now too, as between April and October more than ¼ million birds flock to the Yorkshire Coast.

During these months, you’ll see hundreds of gannets, kittiwakes, gulls and guillemots but there’s one customer that people come in their numbers to spot – the cheeky puffin. These little fellas are unmistakable due to their black and white bodies and brightly-coloured bills and can often be spotted nibbling on small fish from the Yorkshire Sea.

Want help spotting them? Well throughout the summer the RSPB regularly run their Puffin Patrol where you can spend 90 minutes in the company of a friendly and informative guide finding out all you ever wanted to know about these family favourites as you stroll along the cliff tops.

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Potteric Carr

Potteric Carr, near Doncaster, is the largest of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust‘s 80 reserves with 200 hectares of protected meadows and wetlands and a rich diversity of wildlife to discover, it’s the largest inland wetland in the UK outside of London. With small meadows, open water, reedbed, woodland, and marsh habitats, there’s so much wildlife all year round.

You could spot all kinds of different wildlife on any given day, but some often-seen favourites include bitterns, oystercatchers and the magnificent kingfisher. You might also spot one or two birds of prey hovering above, as sparrowhawks, kestrels, falcons and red kites are known to frequent these areas.

The YWT team put on some brilliant workshops and guided walks too, for those who are looking to find out more about Potteric Carr and these are well worth exploring. Finally, not only is this a wildlife utopia but there are some truly gorgeous vistas here too, so make sure you take your camera!

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Located in Bainbridge, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Semerwater is the largest of only three natural water bodies in Yorkshire; a glacial lake which was formed at the end of the last Ice Age when huge amounts of glacial till blocked the outflow.

As tranquil parts of Yorkshire go, this has got to be right up there, you can walk for miles without bumping into another person. Semerwater is an unspoilt remote and none commercialised location which is perfect for those wishing to remove themselves from the beaten track. There’s plenty of wildlife to see too, with ducks, waders, curlew and snipe all regular visitors.

Semerwater has inspired many an Artist; Poet and more recently Photographers; TV Programme Makers and Folk Singers through its myths and legends – the lake itself was the main subject of an 1820 Joseph Turner watercolour painting for example. One of Yorkshire’s hidden wonders.

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Spurn Point

One of Yorkshire’s most iconic nature reserves, Spurn Point is formed from sediment, sand and gravel as a result of the interaction between the North Sea and the River Humber.

No two days are the same at Spurn Point, and it is most definitely a site for all seasons. Spring and autumn proves to be an irresistible draw for birdwatchers, with bracing walks and panoramic sea views guaranteed all year round. Winter sees wading birds like knot, dunlin and godwit gather in huge swirling flocks, with plenty of resident and migratory seabirds always offshore.

In summer you’re likely to see a wide range of wildflower appear in the grassland areas and Roe deer are a regular sight in these areas.

Although it is Yorkshire’s most easterly point, one of the more startling facts about Spurn Point is that it is in fact moving in a westward direction as the Humber and North Sea meet!

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Old Moor

RSPB Old Moor is a wonderful place to come and watch wildlife. The skies, fields and open water are teeming with birds throughout the year and in the summer the grasslands are ablaze with butterflies and orchids.

So who are the star attractions at Old Moor? This summer expect to see dragonflies such as migrant hawkers hunting over the wildlife pools; marsh orchids flowering in the meadow; lapwing chicks exploring pool edges; dozens of common blue butterflies flitting around; little or great crested grebes carrying their stripy chicks on their backs and mute swans with fluffy cygnets. You could also try to spot a water vole feeding or hear it go plop as it swims away.

Situated right at the heart of the Dearne Valley, guided walks and family activities, as well as home-cooked food in the café and a well-stocked shop.

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Also, don’t forget about the Yorkshire Nature Triangle. This is a unique destination in Britain, offering an almost unrivalled range of wildlife experiences and spectacles from the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds to the imposing 400ft chalk cliffs of the East Coast and the mighty Humber Estuary. Enjoy some of the best in British wildlife, from breath-taking seabird ‘cities’ and birds of prey, to otters, avocets and stunning wildflowers – alongside a renowned, great value Yorkshire welcome.

Whatever your knowledge or interest in wildlife, we guarantee that there’ll be something for you – whether it’s your first encounter with a colourful puffin, seeing a red kite soar overhead or the unforgettable glimpse of a whale beneath the waves. The changing of the seasons can always bring something unexpected and no two days are ever the same – so you can come back again and again and always see something new!

Yorkshire is awash with opportunities to take in nature at its finest. Take a look at outdoors section of Yorkshire.com for even more fantastic ideas!



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