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RSPB Nature Reserves in Yorkshire

25th November 2022


Wherever you go in the UK, you will find some brilliant wildlife locations known as RSPB Nature Reserves. The RSPB (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) looks after a collection of nature reserves to protect local birdlife as part of their conservation work. As a result, these reserves are wonderful spots to visit in order to enjoy the outdoors and get in touch with nature. Yorkshire is home to a lovely collection of RSPB Nature Reserves and for those who live in the county or are visiting soon, this guide will let you know about some of what is available. For each location, you will also find some information about its accessibility for those who may have limited mobility or rely on a stairlift at home

Fairburn Ings


Fairburn Ings is located between Leeds, York, and Wakefield, providing a lovely natural retreat for visitors coming from built-up areas. Whether you are looking for a relaxing family activity or some serious bird watching, Fairburn Ings is a brilliant place to be. This ex-industrial site has become a wild place over the last 60 years and an important breeding site and favourite place of wintering wildfowl. With guided walks, nature trails, a visitor’s centre, refreshments, picnic spots, and viewing points for seeing the likes of bittern, Willow tits, and kingfishers, there are plenty of reasons to visit.

The family from Little Vikings, an online guide to York, have been to Fairburn Ings and shared some insight into the walking routes that can be enjoyed, giving a taste of what to expect: “There are five walking routes around Fairburn Ings, from a 500m flat Discovery Trail that’s perfect for buggies and wheelchairs to the Riverbank Trail which is 3km each way and gives you the chance to spot kingfishers, wildflowers and ducks aplenty. We did the Roy Taylor trail and found it easy to follow with plenty to see along the way. The Arrow Lane Trail (1km) runs from the Lin Dike car park and has great views of the swans, ducks and geese. It’s great to have a choice of planned walking routes, not least because it reduces the thinking and planning time and, importantly, the chance we’ll get lost!”

Accessibility at Fairburn Ings

In terms of accessibility, Fairburn Ings has step-free access throughout the visitor’s centre, Blue Badge parking spaces, an accessible toilet, ramps to all viewing points as well as seating, and a mix of different paths both flat and undulating.

You can read more about accessibility at Fairburn Ings here.

Bird species at Fairburn Ings

  • Bittern
  • Willow tit
  • Kingfisher
  • Tree sparrow
  • Grey heron

READ ALSO: RSPB Nature Reserves in Devon

Bempton Cliffs


The Yorkshire coast is truly spectacular and one of the very best locations to experience it is at Bempton Cliffs, a glorious RSPB Nature Reserve. Bempton Cliffs is home to one of the UK’s most incredible wildlife spectacles when between March and October, around half a million seabirds gather on these scenic chalk cliffs to raise their young. There are some truly gorgeous birds found at Bempton Cliffs, including puffins returning from a fish in the sea to gannets gliding around the cliffs. At this cliff-top destination overlooking the North Sea, you will also find a visitor centre, car park, café, toilets, nature trails, and six viewing points.

Sophie, from the travel blog, We Dream of Travel, has been to Bempton Cliffs in order to see the puffins and has shared some insight as well as a couple of tips: “The RSPB Bempton Cliffs provide a nesting site for over half a million seabirds each year. During the summer it is one of the best places to see puffins in Yorkshire. However, throughout the year you will discover a myriad of other incredible wildlife, from gannets soaring overhead to seals in the water below. Arrive early for easy parking and to enjoy a quiet morning walk along the clifftops, then stop by the café for lunch to make the most of a day here.”

Accessibility at Bempton Cliffs

Bempton Cliffs is one of the most accessible seabird colonies in Europe, featuring 11 Blue Badge parking spaces, three fully wheelchair-accessible viewing points, benches, picnic tables with space for wheelchairs, and assistance dogs are welcome.

You can read more about accessibility at Bempton Cliffs here.

Bird species at Bempton Cliffs

  • Gannet
  • Puffin
  • Guillemot
  • Barn owl
  • Tree sparrow

Blacktoft Sands


Blacktoft Sands is yet another brilliant RSPB Nature Reserve in Yorkshire, located on the south bank of the River Ouse, at the point where the water widens to become the Humber Estuary. Featuring accessible trails and hides amid the marsh, reeds, and willows, visitors to Blacktoft Sands will be treated to a fantastic array of birdlife such as avocet nesting on the saline lagoons, Bearded tits rustling in the reeds, and the regular sight of Marsh harriers. Visitors will find two nature trails to enjoy at Blacktoft Sands, providing stunning views across the reedbed and marsh, as well as a visitor centre, car park, toilets, seven hides, and refreshments.

Accessibility at Blacktoft Sands

When it comes to accessibility, Blacktoft Sands has a push-style wheelchair available to hire for free, accessible toilets, hides with wheelchair spaces (though two are accessed by steps), and benches throughout the trails. Some parts of the nature trails could become difficult in wet conditions so this should be taken into account.

You can read more about accessibility at Blacktoft Sands here.

Bird species at Blacktoft Sands

  • Avocet
  • Bittern
  • Bearded tit
  • Hen harrier
  • Marsh harrier

READ ALSO: What to do with grandchildren in Yorkshire and Humber

Dearne Valley Old Moor


Dearne Valley is found in South Yorkshire along the River Dearne and, in the heart of the valley, you will find Old Moor, a pretty nature reserve that is perfect for families. With orchids adorning the meadows in summer and hundreds of ducks, swans and geese arriving in winter, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Dearne Valley Old Moor, no matter what time of year you visit. Whether you fancy an idyllic walk or some serious wildlife watching, Old Moor has you covered, you can even engage in a bit of pond dipping. Birds found here include kingfishers and Barn owls, and the facilities include a car park, visitor centre, café, toilets, picnic area, nature trails and even an adventure playground for the kids.

Accessibility at Dearne Valley Old Moor

There is level entry into the visitor centre at Dearne Valley Old Moor, six Blue Badge parking spaces, mobility scooters available to hire from the car park, nature trails all with flat surfaces, and all hides are adapted for wheelchairs. The café has plenty of room for wheelchairs and there is a lift taking you up to the first floor.

You can read more about accessibility at Dearne Valley Old Moor here.

Bird species at Dearne Valley Old Moor

  • Kingfisher
  • Barn owl
  • Bittern
  • Avocet
  • Marsh harrier

St Aidan's


Conveniently located close to the centre of Leeds, St Aidan’s is a beautiful RSPB Nature Reserve and park that can be explored in many different ways. With reedbeds, wetlands, meadows and woodlands, this haven for wildlife includes the rare bittern, as well as a Black-headed gull colony that can reach thousands of pairs in the spring and summer. The abundance of natural life and scenic views from its nature trails makes St Aidan’s well worth a visit, and with a café and picnic area also available, you can enjoy a lovely long visit to this quiet little retreat.

Accessibility at St Aidan’s

There are five Blue Badge parking spaces at St Aidan’s, the visitor centre has step-free level access throughout and includes an accessible toilet, there is a mixture of trails available of varying difficulties (with surfaces ranging from loose gravel to rough areas and long grass), and assistance dogs are welcome – including into the visitor centre.

You can read more about accessibility at St Aidan's here.

Bird species at St Aidan’s

  • Black-headed gull
  • Bittern
  • Skylark
  • Marsh harrier
  • Short-eared owl

READ ALSO: Grandparents' guide to Chester Zoo

RSPB Nature Reserves in Yorkshire

  • Fairburn Ings
  • Bempton Cliffs
  • Blacktoft Sands
  • Dearne Valley Old Moor
  • St Aidan's

As you can see, there are some truly relaxing and peaceful locations to visit in Yorkshire that are perfect for wildlife lovers or anyone who wants to enjoy some time in nature. If you are in Yorkshire or will be soon, consider heading to one of these lovely spots.

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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.