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Upper Dunsforth Carr Nature Reserve

A series of wet meadows and areas of wet woodland, supporting a wide variety of wetland plants and an interesting and diverse range of insects.


Upper Dunsforth Carrs comprises of a series of habitats that are becoming increasingly rare in lowland Britain as a consequence of agricultural improvement and drainage.

The permanently waterlogged soils over most of the site have produce a variety of wetland communities representing various stages in ecological succession. Where the vegetation is summer grazed by cattle, diverse rush-pasture fen-meadow, tall-herb fen and swamp have developed, whistle ungrazed areas support willow and alder carr. At the south end of the nature reserve, the lighter sandier soil supports drier grassland, similar to the hay meadows that would have once covered much of the Vale of York.


Top Tip:


Look for flocks of lesser redpoll and siskin feeding on alder seeds during the winter.


The site has many bird species characteristic of the farmed landscape surrounding the site, such as chaffinch, greenfinch and yellowhammer. Snipe may be found in winter, along with mixed flocks of lesser redpoll and siskin, whilst reed bunting are present all year round. Green woodpecker are a noisy inhabitant of the nature reserve.

Over 120 species of beetle have been found on the site, including the nationally scarce diving beetle Agabus uliginosus and the large click beetle Ctenicera pectinicornis, which is an important indicator of damp grassland.


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

Bus services available to the village of Great Ouseburn from Boroughbridge, York and Ripon.


Autumn/Winter: The best entrance to choose (shortest walk to an accessible boardwalk through the key wetland areas of the reserve) is via Green Lane which runs through the village of Upper Dunsforth. The entrance to the reserve is set back from the road, at the south east end of the village. 


Spring/Summer (when dry): an alternative entrance to use is off Carr Field Lane (western end of village). Heading south on the B6265, three miles from Boroughbridge, turn left following signs for Upper Dunsforth. Turn left again and parking is on the left after 0.6 miles, before you reach the T-junction at the end. The reserve entrance is set a little back from the road. From this entrance the accesssible boardwalk is a 10-15 minute gentle walk (uneven under foot).


Parking is limited at either entrance and please park sensitively for residents.


Want to see more of Upper Dunsforth Carrs Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.

Upper Dunsforth Carrs Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group


Nearby nature reserves

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

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Carr Field Lane
North Yorkshire
YO26 9RU
Map reference
SE 440 631
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
10.21 hectares
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Much of the reserve is extremely wet and boggy so care must be taken. Contact the Trust for disabled access information.
Walking information
Much of the reserve is extremely wet and boggy so care must be taken.
Limited roadside parking available.
No dogs allowed
Grazing animals
Cattle graze in late summer and eat away the year’s plant growth.
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570


Factsheets and guides for your visit