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Ripon Loop Nature Reserve

A dynamic nature reserve lying within the largest meander of the River Ure and featuring rarities such as thistle broomrape and otters.


On summer days the Ure loops tranquilly around the grassland and wet woods of Ripon Loop, whilst in times of flood the river changes course and cuts directly across the site creating an oxbow lake as it recedes.

This water, held in pools and ditches, provides natural flood protection for areas downstream. Ripon Loop is a 41 hectare nature reserve forming part of the Ripon Parks Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Kingfishers dart past and in winter large fish-eating goosander are frequently seen. Numbers increase if cold weather freezes over lakes and gravel pits in the area, forcing them to use the open water of the river. In summer, sand martin feed on insects overhead, breeding nearby in the soft river banks. They are one of the earliest summer migrant birds to arrive and their buzzing calls can be heard from early March. The site is rich in plantlife with marsh cinquefoil and narrow buckler fern in the wetlands, and bluebell, primrose and the nationally scarce yellow-star-of-Bethlehem in the woodlands.


PLEASE NOTE: This reserve is prone to flash flooding and unstable ground. Entry to the reserve for the general public is not advised during winter months. Thank you for your cooperation.


Top Tip:


Visit in late June or July for your best chance of seeing the colony of thistle broomrape.


Thistle broomrape is a very rare plant that only grows in Yorkshire. Though the plant flourishes here the population is variable; in some years there are hundreds of the cream-coloured flower spikes growing from the base of the thistles, in other years, there are hardly any. Ponds within the grassland, which are formed by subsidence, are home to smooth and great crested newts. Dragonflies are common with banded demoiselles abundant along the river.

The wildflower-rich grassland is maintained by grazing with sheep and cattle. Thistles are cut to prevent them becoming dominant, but some are left to maintain the colony of thistle broomrape.


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.


Public Transport

Ripon to Masham buses stop on the A6108 at Ripon City Golf Club.


0.75 miles north of Ripon on the A6108, turn right at Ripon City Golf Club. Drive past the tennis club and driving range, past a right turn to a farm and take the next right (just after a no unauthorised entry sign) and drive to the end. A small parking area is available on the left before the gate. A surfaced track leads towards the river but access to the riverbank and meadows during the summer is difficult due to the tall vegetation.





Want to see more of Ripon Loop Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.

Ripon Loop Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group



Nearby nature reserves

Bishop Monkton Railway Cutting Nature Reserve
5 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Burton Leonard Lime Quarries
7 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Staveley Nature Reserve
7 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Off Park Lane
North Yorkshire
Map reference
SE 317 737
Great for...
a family day out
Best time to visit
May - Sep
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
41.36 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Living Landscape schemes
River Ure Corridor
Contact the Trust for disabled access information.
Walking information
Please be aware that the reserve become hazardous in times of high river flow and may flood. Dogs are not permitted on the reserve.
No dogs allowed
Grazing animals
Sheep and Cattle
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570


Factsheets and guides for your visit