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.
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 Steer Inn 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.