Cali Heath Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Parking informationLimited parking in gateway
Grazing animalsHebridean sheep
Access on foot from roadside. Paths are generally flat but un-surfaced with some uneven terrain. More information below.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to September
Cali Heath is an area of grassy heath – a habitat rare in Yorkshire. Tiny flowering plants can be seen in the grassland including bird’s-foot trefoil, dove’s-foot cranesbill and common stork’s-bill – all typical of these sandy soils. Hare’s-foot clover is worth looking out for, named for its fluffy-looking flower heads. Shepherd’s cress, recorded in only three other places in Yorkshire, also grows well here.
Parts of the site support rough grassland which is valuable for a huge number of insects. Over 370 fly species alone have been recorded here and the site is also important for beetles and bugs too. One fly species – Hilara gallica – was thought to be extinct in Britain until it was re-discovered here and the nature reserve is now its UK stronghold.
There are small areas of oak woodland in the drier parts of the site, with alders and willow fringing the ditches and in some of the wetter spots rushes and yellow flag iris grow.
- Spring: Plants - Marsh marigold; Birds - Blackcap; Green woodpecker; Willow warbler; Whitethroat
- Summer: Plants - Toadflax; Heath bedstraw; Musk mallow; Invertebrates - Red admiral; Small copper
- Autumn: Plants -Harebell; Hare's foot clover
- Winter: Birds - Red kite; Barn owl
At the time of the gold rush in America, when people travelled west to California to make their fortune, Cali Heath was granted to the poor of Barmby Moor by a local Trust – so the people here similarly travelled west to make their fortune – hence the area become known as Cali (or California) Heath.
When the Trust took on the nature reserve in 2003 parts of the site were agricultural set-aside. Since then work on the site has concentrated on removing invading scrub, bracken and bramble in order to restore the acidic grassland habitat. The two fields which had been previously farmed were re-seeded with a species mix to recreate the natural grasslands. A true success story, as restoration is really working on the site, with one of the seeded grasslands now species rich.
Regular buses run between York and Hull and stop next to the Thai Season Hotel & Restaurant opposite the nature reserve.
On the north side of the A1079 York to Hull Road 9.5 miles east of York centre. Almost opposite the Steer Inn. Please park carefully on the lane behind the pub and cross the A1079 to enter the site.
Many of our reserves are small and beautiful but remote. Visitors will have different access needs and abilities and we want to provide some basic information about the reserve to help you decide whether this is a place you would like to visit and to help you plan.
Walking at Cali Heath
The reserve is open grassland with pockets of woodland and bracken. It is fairly level but uneven ground with many rabbit burrows in some areas. Parts can become waterlogged during prolonged wet weather, especially in winter.
An unsurfaced permissive path forms a 1.2km circuit of the reserve taking 30 minutes or more to complete.
There are no benches or hides on the reserve.
There are six small kissing gates along the main permissive path including the first at the reserve entrance. There is a separate small kissing gate where a public footpath enters the reserve from the main road.
A wooden footbridge (small step each end) about one metre wide with handrails crosses a dyke about halfway round the circular route and is accessed by a small kissing gate at each side. There is also a pipe bridge with kissing gates and field gates each side.
Parking for 1-2 cars on concrete just outside reserve access gate immediately off a very busy main road A1079.
There is a small cafe 200m away in direction of Hull. More facilities including public toilets are 3.5 miles away in Pocklington.
There is good mobile signal throughout.
The What3Words code is emeralds.policy.grew