Back to reserve map

Strensall Common Nature Reserve

Strensall Common is a fabulous large heathland close to York where the pink heads and grey green leaves of cross-leaved heath intermingle with the purple spikes and green foliage of ling heather. Common lizards bask on the stumps of silver birch.

Strensall Common forms part of a larger tract of internationally important lowland heath that lies within the Vale of York.

Close to the City of York, the nature reserve supports a mosaic of wet heath, dry heath, mire, open water, woodland and acid grassland. Over 150 plant species grow here including marsh cinquefoil, the beautiful blue marsh gentian and carnivorous round-leaved sundew. Ling heather and cross-leaved heath turn the heathland purple in August. Less showy, but just as pretty are the flowers found within some of the drier grassland; pinky-red sheep’s sorrel and the tiny white crosses of heath bedstraw can be seen if you look closely.

Top Tip:

Visit on a warm August afternoon to enjoy the purple heather which carpets the common at this time of year. Bold Southern hawker dragonflies patrol sheltered sunny areas and common lizards lazily bask on the old birch stumps.

The Common is home to a host of insects including a nationally important population of dark-bordered beauty moth. Green and purple hairstreak butterflies occur here and bog bush-cricket live in the rushy grassland.

Birds using the site include woodlark, green woodpecker, stonechat, coal and willow tits. Cuckoo breed and hobby sightings are increasing.

Conservation management here aims to maintain the open areas of heath. Grazing using Hebridean sheep has helped control birch seedlings. Bracken is controlled along with invasive coniferous species that are not native to heaths in this part of the UK. Ponds are cleared out from time to time, which maintains patches of open water.

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

A regular bus service from York runs to Strensall.


Folow the A1237 from York into Strensall village, follow the signs for Flaxton. After a mile you cross a cattle grid onto Strensall Common. The nature reserve is to the left. There are various parking areas within the common – a central parking point is by the Common Road level crossing.


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

Strensall Common Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group


Nearby nature reserves

Moorlands Nature Reserve
5 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Jeffry Bog Nature Reserve
8 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Askham Bog Nature Reserve
10 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Common Road
North Yorkshire
YO60 7QY
Map reference
SE 647 615
Great for...
a family day out
Best time to visit
Mar - Sep
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
41.57 hectares

Public and permissive footpaths. Contact the Trust for disabled access information.
Walking information
Public and permissive footpaths.
Roadside parking available.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Hebridean sheep and Highland cattle graze during summer to keep down encroaching vegetation
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570


Factsheets and guides for your visit