Barlow Common Nature Reserve
Please note that the toilets are currently out of order but should be open again by Sunday 24 February.
Know before you go
Parking informationParking available at the main entrance of the reserve. Disabled parking available when entering from Barlow Common Road.
Unsurfaced paths around the reserve, with some boardwalks.
A wildlife trail, developed thanks to funding from SUEZ, leads visitors around a trail of predominantly oak and birch woodland that often gets missed as it is tucked away in a quiet corner of the reserve.
Twenty-five hand-carved wooden waymarkers act as check points around the reserve, alerting visitors to the huge variety of wildlife present.
Disabled access available from Barlow Common Road. Toilets are available at the Education Centre (9am-4pm seven days a week), please note there is a ramp plus step to toilets with broad but not fully equipped cubicles.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen dawn till dusk.
Best time to visitMarch to September
Listen out for the loud, laughing call of a green woodpecker and keep an eye out for grass snakes basking in the sun.
In summer, butterflies including peacock, red admiral and painted lady feast on flowering teasels, whilst dramatically-marked cinnabar moth caterpillars are visible on ragwort - striped yellow and black as a vivid warning to would-be predators. Flowers including evening primrose, lady's bedstraw, wild basil and common centaury provide a stunning display, whilst ox-eye daisies and orchids also draw vistors in.
On the far pond ducks, geese and swans raise young in the spring; whilst under the water dragonfly larvae and newts are waiting to be discovered by intrepid pond dippers!
Come winter the teasels, flowering now ended for the year, provide seeds for incoming flocks of finches. Sharp-eyed visitors may also glimpse a timid roe deer or fox taking a wander.
- Spring: Birds - Grey heron; Kingfisher; Reed bunting
- Summer: Plants - Common spotted orchid; Invertebrates - Red admiral; Birds - Cuckoo; Reptile - Grass snake
- Autumn: Mammals - Fox; Birds - Great spotted woodpecker
- Winter: Mammals - Roe deer; Birds - Long-tailed tit; Siskin; Swan
Whilst warblers, woodpeckers and wall brown butterflies now call Barlow Common home, the site has a chequered past.
Up until the early 1900s local people grazed cattle, pigs and sheep on the common, after which the site was purchased by a local rail company who used it as a ballast tip.
Later, in 1983, British Rail reclaimed the land and capped the tip using local soils.
Selby District Council then acquired the site in 1986 and managed it until March 2013, when the Trust took over its care.
Regular bus services run close to Barlow Common - the entrance to the nature reserve is about 50 metres from the nearest bus stop. The nearest train station is in Selby.
Barlow Common is easily reached from the A1041 Selby to Snaith road by taking the southern-most turning to Barlow village. Follow the road for approximately 1½ miles and turn right onto Mill Lane. After less than half a mile the nature reserve will be on the right.