Allerthorpe Common - Kirsty Brown

Allerthorpe Common - Kirsty Brown

Allerthorpe Common Nature Reserve

Bees buzzing around sweet smelling purple spikes of heather, a green woodpecker 'yaffling' from the woodland edge, an adder shyly slithering into the undergrowth below prickly coconut-scented gorse bushes - all make up the sights, sounds and smells of Allerthorpe Common. The reserve is visited by roe deer, badgers and foxes. It is particularly rich in reptile, amphibian and invertebrate species.


Off Common Lane

East Riding of Yorkshire
YO42 4RU

OS Map Reference

Car park - SE752473
Reserve - SE761476
A static map of Allerthorpe Common Nature Reserve

Know before you go

6 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Free parking in FC car park of Common Lane

Grazing animals


Walking trails

There are no formal paths on the reserve.


Reserve is accessed by 500m walk along forest track.


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

March to September

Fire at Allerthorpe Common

On Sunday 7th April 2019, a significant proportion of heathland at Allerthorpe Common was damaged through fire. We are therefore requesting that visitors avoid the reserve for the next few months, so that we can carry out maintenance work and allow the heath time to regrow and recover.

In this instance, a small fire - part of standard site management practice - caught on the breeze and rapidly spread, despite precautions designed to prevent this. We are very grateful to the Fire Service, who attended quickly and did a brilliant job in putting the fire out. Thankfully all staff and volunteers are safe and well.

We believe that the correct procedures and practices were followed on the day, and that this was simply an unfortunate accident. We will, however, undertake a full review to ensure that nothing more could have been done, and how to best avoid this happening again. With an unusually dry winter after a hot summer, there was always a risk.

Because the fire occurred in early spring, there is every reason to expect that Allerthorpe Common will recover well. Please bear this in mind if visiting the area.


Allerthorpe Common is alive with wildlife throughout the year and supports a surprising range of habitats for such a small pocket of lowland heath - wet heath, dry heath, acid grassland, woodland, scrub and open water are all waiting to be discovered.

Ling heather, tormentil, sheep's fescue and wavy hair-grass grow on the drier areas of the site. Cross-leaved heath and purple moor grass grow in the damper areas as well as nationally rare May lily. Patches of gorse scrub provide shelter for birds and their network of roots support a healthy population of adders.

Areas of mature birch and willow woodland add another dimension to the site - great spotted woodpecker may sometimes be seen.

One large pool and several smaller ponds support numerous damselfly and dragonfly species including broad-bodied chaser and blue-tailed damselfly.

On-site grazing using rare breed cattle helps keep tree saplings and some of the coarse competitive grasses that can take over the heath in check. Volunteers also work regularly to control bramble and bracken that can become a problem and remove any birch saplings that the cattle have missed.

Read more about the origins of Allerthorpe Common below under 'history'.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - May lily; Reptiles - Adder; Birds - Green woodpecker; Woodlark; Willow warbler
  • Summer: Plants - Tormentil; Ling heather; Marsh cinquefoil; Invertebrates - Broad-bodied chaser
  • Autumn: Birds - Woodcock; Siskin; Lesser redpoll
  • Winter: Birds - Jay; Coal tit; Treecreeper


The history of Allerthorpe Common can be traced back to AD 1086 when it was recorded in the Doomsday book as Aluuarstorp. Discover more about its past from the download below.


Public transport
York - Hull buses stop at Barmby Moor village, 2.3 miles away.

By car
Turn south off the A1079 near Barmby Moor signed Sutton-on-Derwent and Thornton. Take the next left signposted Thornton, and parking is in a Forestry Commission car park 0.5 miles along this road on the right. From here cross the road and follow the forest track until you come to a line of pylons. Turn right and the nature reserve is a short distance along on your right.