Ripon Loop Nature Reserve
Please note that the nature reserve is temporarily closed to all visitors. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Know before you go
Parking informationA small parking area is available on the left before the gate.
Grazing animalsSheep and cattle
Limited/no accessibilty for wheelchair users. Pay particular attention to the river when visiting, making sure to avoid the floodplain when flooding threatens.
When to visit
Opening timesClosed long-term due to flooding and change of river course.
Best time to visitMay to September
On summer days the Ure loops tranquilly around the grassland and wet woods of Ripon Loop, whilst in times of flood the river changes course and cuts directly across the site creating an oxbow lake as it recedes.
This water, held in pools and ditches, provides natural flood protection for areas downstream. Ripon Loop is a 41 hectare nature reserve forming part of the Ripon Parks Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Kingfishers dart past and in winter large fish-eating goosander are frequently seen. Numbers increase if cold weather freezes over lakes and gravel pits in the area, forcing them to use the open water of the river. In summer, sand martin feed on insects overhead, breeding nearby in the soft river banks. They are one of the earliest summer migrant birds to arrive and their buzzing calls can be heard from early March. The site is rich in plantlife with marsh cinquefoil and narrow buckler fern in the wetlands, and bluebell, primrose and the nationally scarce yellow-star-of-Bethlehem in the woodlands.
Thistle broomrape is a very rare plant that only grows in Yorkshire. Though the plant flourishes here the population is variable; in some years there are hundreds of the cream-coloured flower spikes growing from the base of the thistles, in other years, there are hardly any. Ponds within the grassland, which are formed by subsidence, are home to smooth and great crested newts. Dragonflies are common with banded demoiselles abundant along the river.
The wildflower-rich grassland is maintained by grazing with sheep and cattle. Thistles are cut to prevent them becoming dominant, but some are left to maintain the colony of thistle broomrape.
- Spring: Plants - Bluebell; Birds - Sandmartin
- Summer: Plants - Thistle broomrape; Common knapweed; Common figwort; Invertebrates - Banded demoiselle
- Autumn: Birds - Kingfisher; Inverterbrates - Southern hawker
- Winter: Birds - Goosander; Green woodpecker; Bullfinch
Ripon to Masham buses stop on the A6108 at Ripon City Golf Club.
Turn right at Ripon City Golf Club, drive past the tennis club and driving range, past a right turn to a farm and take the next right (just after a no unauthorised entry sign) and drive to the end. A small parking area is available on the left before the gate. A surfaced track leads towards the river but access to the riverbank and meadows during the summer is difficult due to the tall vegetation.