North Cliffe Wood Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Parking informationLimited parking in roadside laybys
Grazing animalsHebridean sheep graze the land in the spring
Marked permissive paths, some uneven terrain and rough surfaces.
Limited for wheelchair users. Please note that in winter and after heavy rain footpaths can be soft and flooded locally.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to June
Occupying flat land on the eastern side of the Vale of York, this woodland has a very varied structure comprising wet and dry mixed broadleaved woodland, a small reedbed, and areas of restored lowland heath. The lower lying western areas flood in most winters, providing suitable conditions for willow scrub. To the south of the main entrance there is an area of high oak forest, with a clump of multi-stemmed alders nearby, being evidence of coppicing activity that took place in the original forested landscape. In the south west corner there is substantial clearing of lowland heathland that supports typical species including ling heather, heath rush and common cotton grass. Several pools within the woodland and heathland areas provide homes for damselflies and dragonflies and grassy clearing within the wood are a hive of activity for summer butterflies.
In spring a stunning carpet of bluebells greets you and on a still day the scent of the flowers is irresistable. Grass snakes emerge from hibernation and can often be spotted basking in sunny glades or the edges of paths.
In the woodland canopy from spring and into summer, migrant warblers, including willow and garden, plus chiffchaff and blackcap, add their songs to the resident species, such as treecreeper, great spotted and green woodpeckers. In recent years, woodlark has colonised, adding their rich and evocative song to the chorus. Then head out onto the heathland and watch for solitary bees and wasps as they excavate their burrows in the sandy soils.
Autumn is the time to look to the ground and appreciate the diversity of fungi found in the woods. Also look out for flocks of Siskin feeding on the birch and alder seeds. The colours on the reserve are ever changing through the autumn with the leaves slowly changing, the heather coming into flower and the bracken dying off to a rich gold.
With the leaves off the trees winter is a great time to look for wood peckers, both green and great spotted can be seen as well as treecreeper working their way up tree trunks looking for invertebrates in the bark.
- Spring: Plants - Bluebell; Greater stitchwort; Primrose; Reptiles - Grass snake; Birds - Chiffchaff
- Summer: Plants - Cotton grass; Birds - Garden Warbler; Blackcap; Invertebrates - Speckled wood
- Autumn: Mammals - Fallow deer; Red deer
- Winter: Birds - Great-spotted woodpecker; Marsh tit; Nuthatch
North Cliffe Wood was drained in the late 19th Century and the mature trees clear-felled in 1921. Bracken and rabbits were then able to fully exploit the sandy soils and prevent the regeneration of trees until myxomatosis destroyed the rabbit population in 1954. Conditions were thus set for the rapid spread of birch and mountain ash, the seeds of which are readily distributed by wind and birds respectively. These two species are still the most common trees in the wood today, although over 20 species have been recorded.
Irregular bus service from Market Weighton to North Cliffe village.
From A1079 Market Weighton head south down Cliffe Road. Then turn right after four miles down Sand Lane. Park on the left by the wood.