Ripon City Wetlands

Created from the footprint of a working quarry, Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve is a thriving home for a range of birds and other wildlife.

You may see bitterns, avocets, little ringed plovers, kingfishers and otters among the reedbeds and in the water. Wander along the marked trail and settle down to watch the wildlife at one of our two viewing places.


Ripon City Wetlands
Boroughbridge Road
A static map of Ripon City Wetlands

Know before you go

41 hectares

Parking information

Car park (open 9am to 5pm from Thursday 16 July, except on Race Days) at the entrance of the reserve. Please use the rear car park (furthest from the road). Parking is free for members of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. We ask non-members for a donation.

Walking trails

There is a trail leading from the car park down to the Riverside Lagoon viewing screen and then on to the canal towpath which leads to the Canal Reedbed Hide. There is no loop trail - it's there and back.


Please keep to the footpaths, as the rest of the reserve is  for wildlife only. Paths are flat but surfaced with gravel, making it difficult for wheelchairs and buggies. We advise sturdy footwear with strong soles.

The River Ure can flood the site and we may have to close the nature reserve until the floodwater has receded. We will let visitors know when this happens.


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

The car park is open 9am to 5pm, but you can access the nature reserve by foot via the canal towpath from dawn until dusk. When the car park is closed (out of hours and on race days) you can park in Littlethorpe village and access the nature reserve via Renton’s Bridge which crosses the canal (grid reference SE330 685).

The visitor car park will be closed to the public on race days at Ripon Racecourse, but the nature reserve will be open to pedestrians entering from the towpath. You can view the dates of race days on the Ripon Racecourse website: . Please note any temporary signage on site.

Best time to visit

Throughout the year

Location map


By foot - The nature reserve is mainly accessed from the car park – see below. Alternatively, you can access via the canal towpath, having walked south from Ripon, or enter over Renton’s Bridge, accessed off Green Lane, Littlethorpe, HG4 3LR (approx.).

By public transport - There is a bus stop for the Racecourse on the B6265 just west of the site entrance.

By car - The nature reserve is just south of the B6265 east of Ripon. From A61 in Ripon head east on the B6265 towards Boroughbridge and the A1.

After 1.1km turn right into the entrance, signed Ripon City Wetlands and Ripon Racecourse. After 150m, bear left into the car park for the nature reserve.

If arriving from the A1, follow the B6265 for  around 6km, until you cross over the River Ure. Take the first left turn (after 150m) into the entrance.

The entrance has two large YWT signs marking it. Follow the track leading from the southwest corner of the car park to enter the reserve.

About the reserve

Ripon City Wetlands is a wetland site lying next to Ripon Racecourse, east of Ripon. Formed from former gravel workings, a modern wetland nature reserve has been created in the footprint of the quarry.

The site lies between the River Ure which sometimes floods the site, and the Ripon Canal.

Large numbers of wildfowl and waders are attracted to the site, including tufted ducks, teal, gadwall and shoveler. In spring, the purpose-built reedbeds are alive with the songs of sedge and reed warblers, while flocks of sand martins fly overhead seeking insects. Large numbers of damselflies emerge in the summer months, providing food for birds including reed warblers and spectacular hobbies.

Seasonal highlights


Invertebrates - Brimstone butterfly

Amphibians - Toad

Birds – Sand martin; willow warbler; sedge warbler; lapwing; little ringed plover; tufted duck; mute swan


Plants – Ragged robin

Invertebrates – Common blue damselfly

Birds – green sandpiper


Birds – Teal; snipe; curlew; redwing


Mammals – Brown hare; fox