A lovely woodland nature reserve rich in wildlife. In spring, a lilac haze of bluebells stretches out beneath the vibrant green leaves of birch, while the songs of a host of warblers can be heard all around.
North Cliffe Wood is a woodland nature reserve lying on sandy soils.
In spring a carpet of bluebells and other woodland flowers provide a beautiful sight, while in the woodland canopy, migrant warblers, including willow and garden, plus chiffchaff and blackcap, add their songs to the resident species, such as treecreeper, great spotted and green woodpeckers. In recent years, woodlark has colonised, adding their rich and evocative song to the chorus.
North Cliffe Wood was drained in the late 19th Century and the mature trees clear-felled in 1921. Bracken and rabbits were then able to fully exploit the sandy soils and prevent the regeneration of trees until myxomatosis destroyed the rabbit population in 1954. Conditions were thus set for the rapid spread of birch and mountain ash, the seeds of which are readily distributed by wind and birds respectively. These two species are still the most common trees in the wood today, although over 20 species have been recorded.
If you go before the trees are fully in leaf you’ll get good views of great spotted woodpecker chasing through the trees and may be lucky enough to hear woodlarks singing from the heahtland clearings.
The site is quite varied, with the lower lying wester areas flooding in most winters, providing suitable conditions for willow scrub. To the south of the main entrance there is an area of high oak forest, with a clump of multi-stemmed alders nearby, being evidence of coppicing activity that took place in the original forested landscape.
In the south west corner there is substantial clearing of lowland heathland that supports typical species including ling heather, heath rush and common cotton grass. Several pools within the woodland and heathland areas provide homes for damselflies and dragonflies and grassy clearing within the wood are a hive of activity for summer butterflies. Grass snakes can regularly be seen basking in the sun along paths and in open areas.
Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.
Irregular bus service from Market Weighton to North Cliffe village.
From A1079 Market Weighton head south down Cliffe Road. Then turn right after four miles down Sand Lane. Park on the left by the wood.
Want to see more of North Cliffe Wood Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.