Yorkshire Nature Triangle – The Wolds, Spurn & Humber Estuary

Wheldrake Ings in the height of summer. Credit Carol Warren

Wheldrake Ings in the height of summer. Credit Carol Warren

North Cave Wetlands from the panoramic viewing hide. Credit Stuart Petch

North Cave Wetlands from the panoramic viewing hide. Credit Stuart Petch

The Yorkshire Nature Triangle in East Yorkshire includes the breathtaking wildlife-rich landscapes of The Humber Estuary and the Yorkshire Wolds as well as wetland wonders flanking the river Humber and inland country parks on former deer parks. The Yorkshire Wolds is a tranquil scene of ancient bluebell woodlands home to Roe deer, charming trails frequented by red kite, and a landscape of gentle dales and flat chalk grasslands dotted with unspoilt villages. At the mouth of the Humber sits one of the Yorkshire Nature Triangle’s most iconic nature reserves – the wildlife-rich narrow sandy spit finger of Spurn Point.

Spurn National Nature Reserve. Credit David Nichols

Spurn National Nature Reserve. Credit David Nichols

Spurn Point

YWT Spurn – Migration ‘in action’, vast winter flocks of waders and waterbirds, 4×4 safaris, Lighthouse (autumn 2015).

The mighty river Humber has a strong presence in the south of the Yorkshire Nature Triangle, with the unmistakable three mile-long sand spit of Spurn Point both a mecca for migratory birds in spring and autumn, and visitors keen to enjoy the ‘wilderness’ feel of the sand dunes and rich maritime history including an historic lighthouse (*currently in full restoration, opening autumn 2015).

Wetland Wonders

Yorkshire Water Tophill Low: Top 5 species: Otter (including ‘holt cam’), barn owl, winter ducks, water vole, woodland birds.
YWT North Cave (accessible) – Top 5 species: Avocet, marbled white butterfly, brown argus butterfly, wigeon, marsh harrier.
RSPB Blacktoft Sands (accessible) – Top 5 species: Marsh harrier, bearded tit, avocet, hen harrier, Konik ponies.

An Otter enjoys an early morning swim. Credit Elliot Smith

An Otter enjoys an early morning swim. Credit Elliot Smith

Move slightly inland from the coast and estuary, and discover magical wetlands like Tophill Low between Driffield and Beverley which plays host to regular sightings of sought-after wildlife like the otter and barn owl, whilst winter sees colourful wildfowl arrive in their thousands. Accessible North Cave Nature Reserve, a former gravel quarry and a real 21st century reserve is just half an hour from Hull and features a patchwork of deep lakes, wet grassland, gravel islands and reedbed which support over 200 species of breeding, wintering and passage migrants birds. The exquisite and iconic avocet has recently made a home at North Cave. A myriad of wetlands and reedbeds nestle alongside the river Humber, including Blacktoft Sands near Goole. The extensive reedbeds at Blacktoft are home to secretive wildlife like the bearded tit and bittern. These stepping stones along the river are also the perfect hunting ground for the impressive marsh harrier, a specialist of these habitats.

Country Parks & Apple Trails

Park nature reserves can be found inland or flanking the estuary. Beverley Parks sit on a former deer park dating from 1086 and are now home to the Millenium Orchard famed for its variety of apples. They include local varieties like the Beverley Pippin and Hornsea Herring! The Humber Bridge Country Park is home to a rich butterfly habitat and overlooks the mighty Humber Bridge and Estuary. This park is great for families, with cliff-hanging trees, mini trails through woodland and grassland and sculpture trails.

Orchids and Bird’s Foot Trefoil in chalk grassland along The Hudson Way. Credit ERYC

Orchids and Bird’s Foot Trefoil in chalk grassland along The Hudson Way. Credit ERYC

The Wolds & Vale of York

YWT Wheldrake Ings – Top 5 species: Wildflower meadows, ruff, whimbrel, pintail, whooper swans.

The Vale of York and the Wolds hold some of the Yorkshire Nature Triangle’s best-kept secrets. Wheldrake Ings near York is a riot of wildflowers in spring, with displaying and nesting birds like snipe, ruff and redshank providing the soundtrack. Winter also offers plenty here too with the striking pintail and thousands of other waterbirds often joined by arctic whooper swans and even the occasional otter. Travelling throughout the Wolds can also deliver a surprise, with regular sightings of red kites – second only to Scotland’s eagles in size – and the opportunity to enjoy the quiet tranquillity of England’s most northerly chalk streams playing host to kingfishers, trout and lamprey. Look out for red kites and skylarks along the pretty Hudson Way which follows part of the old track bed of the Market Weighton to Beverley railway.

Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.