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Skerne Wetlands Nature Reserve

Skerne Wetlands has undergone a major restoration programme to create a wetland paradise and a visit will always provide something new and exciting. The jewel in the crown of this site is the nationally important, most northerly chalk river that is the West Beck, a part of the River Hull headwater chalk streams Site of Special Scientific Interest. The stream with its crystal clear waters, lush bankside plants and stunning flowering beds of water crowfoot are not to be missed in the early summer.

This complex of sites lying along the crystal clear waters of the West Beck form a beautiful landscape in which to watch wildlife. The waters of this, the most northerly chalk stream in Britain, are a haven for charismatic species such as wild brown trout, grayling, brook lamprey, water vole and kingfisher. In spring, beds of water crowfoot flower, providing a carpet of white among the gravel beds where the fish spawn. The clean, oxygen-rich water is home to a wide range of mayflies, caddisflies and other aquatic insects, attracting yellow wagtails and other insect-feeding birds. Skerne Wetlands has undergone a major restoration programme to create a wetland paradise and a visit will always provide something new and exciting. Bitterns have been attracted to the marginal reedbeds in winter and otters are found along the chalk stream and their tracks and signs are plentiful. In late summer, muddy edges attract wading birds such as green sandpipers, whilst dragonflies may be seen scattered amongst striking stands of purple loosestrife. The nature reserve was purchased in 2008 as two grass fields – Snakeholm Pastures, adjacent to the Wansford Bridge, some four miles southeast of Driffield, in the heart of East Yorkshire. Then, in 2011 the Trust had the opportunity to acquire what at the time was a commercial fish farm covering 33 hectares along with around a mile of the West Beck chalk stream. This is now known as Skerne Wetlands and in 2014 the Trust completed the purchase of a further 12 hectares of land on the opposite side of the chalk stream to extend the nature reserve to over 40 hectares and 1½ mile of chalk stream. The site complex of over 80 former fish farm ponds is now, with the support of Trust volunteers being developed into a mosaic of wetland habitat to include wet grassland, wet woodland, reedbed and open water.


The northern part of the site (Snakeholm Pastures) can be accessed from Wansford Bridge where there is a public footpath that runs alongside the West Beck chalk stream. The southern entrance to Skerne Wetlands is now open for visitors from 9am until 5pm. Please use the car parking area just over the cattle grid, which is approximately 400m from the entrance gate. The reserve still has further works to complete, so please bear with us as once complete we aim to make more of the site accessible on foot. Thank you for your co-operation whilst we further develop the site for both wildlife and people and if you have further questions please do contact us.

Update 25th October 2016


Skerne Wetlands is receiving it’s final touches this autumn as the 3 year Crystal Clear project funded by WREN Biodiversity Action Fund nears completion. The project has centred around the conversion of a former fish farm into Skerne Wetlands Nature Reserve near Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Living Landscapes Manager for the Wolds & Holderness Jon Traill said: “For anyone thinking of visiting the reserve we just wanted to let you know that this last phase of work will see things at Skerne get a little muddy; the ponds & watercourses will also be a little lower than usual but when the work has been completed the reserve shall  once again start to settle down and recover.”

This final phase of habitat improvement works on the reserve shall be completed within the next few weeks. This includes works to improve the chalk stream habitats within West Beck SSSI, create new areas of fen and wet meadow along with improving the control and movement of water around the site.

Nearby nature reserves

Snakeholm Pastures
1 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Pulfin Bog Nature Reserve
6 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Keldmarsh Nature Reserve
10 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

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Reserve information

Skerne Wetlands Nature Reserve
East Riding of Yorkshire
YO25 9HU
Map reference
TA 06052 54003
Great for...
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45.00 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Living Landscape schemes
River Hull Floodplain

The northern part of Skerne Wetlands can be accessed via Snakeholm Pastures which lies just south of Wansford Bridge off the B1249 southeast of Driffield. A small amount of roadside parking exists. The southern entrance of Skerne Wetlands is accessed along a farm track just east of Skerne Village. Turn south off the road, left at the fork, right towards Cleaves Farm and follow the track where parking is available.
Best to park at Wansford Bridge and walk via Snakeholm Pastures.
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Jon Traill
Tel: 01904 659570