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Whitcliffe Wood welcomes walkers and wildlife

Tuesday 17th March 2015

Treecreeper Credit Neil Aldridge)Treecreeper (Credit Neil Aldridge)

A new nature reserve on the edge of Ripon has recently opened to the public.

Whitcliffe Wood is a small woodland owned privately and managed as a nature reserve in partnership with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Works have been completed to improve the visitor access and to protect the wildlife of the site.

There is a permissive circular path through the wood and adjoining fields with information panels and beautiful views across the River Skell valley. Some areas within the wood have been fenced off to reduce disturbance and encourage regeneration of flowering plants. Native wildflower bulbs have been planted to enhance the existing ground flora and new bird boxes installed to provide nest sites for the birds that use the wood.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Rob Stoneman said: “Just a few months ago, Whitcliffe Wood was a dark, dank hidden corner of Ripon, home to little wildlife. Today, with a huge thanks to the wood’s owner, Paul Sykes, Whitcliffe Wood is on the road to recovery.”

“Light now floods the woodland floor to allow the full array of woodland wildlife to return and recolonize its old haunts. On the special alkaline soils of the Permian limestone rocks, this site will develop a rich woodland flora. Already the birds are singing, setting up their territories for summer breeding. More than that, Whitcliffe Woods takes its place as part of a wildlife-rich living landscape stretching from Ripon, through the World Heritage Site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal and up onto the Nidderdale moors.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to partnering up with Paul Sykes to make this Living Landscape aspiration a reality – a win for wildlife and a win for the people of Ripon who have yet another fabulous nature reserve on their doorstep.”

Mr Paul Sykes said: “Whitcliffe wood has been a great addition to the adjacent 300 acres of wildlife sanctuary which has taken over 20 years to create and transform from intense farm land to a wildlife haven with the help and vision of my estate manager Neil Watson.”

The wood has some old coppice coupes, these are areas of hazel and elm stools which traditionally would have been cut to provide timber and woodland products. Coppicing is a great way to open up the woodland canopy, allowing in sunlight to boost the diversity of flowering plants, insects and birds. Small sections of coppicing have been re-instated as part of the conservation management of the site, the timber has been formed into habitat piles to provide lots of nooks and crannies for all sorts of creepy crawlies.

Whitcliffe Wood can be found along Whitcliffe Lane, to the south west of Ripon (OS grid ref SE 300695 postcode HG4 3AS). The site is owned by Paul Sykes and managed in partnership with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.