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Chance to explore a ‘jewel in the crown’ of Yorkshire’s countryside

5/10/2022

To mark the 70th anniversary of England's first National Nature Reserve, people are being offered the opportunity to explore one of Yorkshire's 'jewels in nature's crown'.


In 1952, England's first National Nature Reserve (NNR) was created when a small area of oak woodland in Devon was bought by The Nature Conservancy.


Among North Yorkshire's eight NNRs is 274-hectare Skipwith Common, near Selby, which was designated in 2010. It is owned and managed by Escrick Park Estate, in partnership with Natural England and a team of dedicated volunteers, the Friends of Skipwith Common.


Now the public are being given an opportunity to enjoy free guided tours of the reserve as part of the Festival of National Nature Reserves.


Mark Hewitt, Escrick Park Estate's conservation officer, said: “NNRs are known as 'outdoor laboratories' and can help us understand more about the importance of nature conservation, especially as we face the dual threats of climate change and a biodiversity crisis.


“Skipwith Common is an excellent example of how Estates such as Escrick can play a leading role in helping preserve and enhance our country's natural assets for the benefit of both people and nature.”

Mark Hewitt, Escrick Park Estate Conservation Officer

Skipwith is home to many habitats and is one of the last remaining areas of lowland heath in northern England – and one of only two extensive areas of open heathland in the Vale of York.


Hardy Hebridean sheep, Longhorn cattle and Exmoor ponies help to manage the rare heathland naturally through grazing. There is a variety of rare heathland plants, as well as dragonflies and other insects. There is also a huge array of birds that can be spotted in and around the reserve.


Many Bronze Age and Iron Age features are scattered about the reserve, and also the remains of Riccall airfield where Halifax bomber crews were trained in the Second World War.


Beilby Forbes Adam, of Escrick Park Estate said: “The Estate is committed to working independently, and with others, to care for the natural environment. We have been at the leading edge of research into biodiversity net gain, and are keen for people to learn more about the work we do protecting and promoting the countryside.


“We are taking practical steps to deliver the aims of the national 25-Year Environment Plan which include clean air and water, thriving plants and wildlife, tackling and adapting to climate change, and engagement with the environment.”


The walks are:

Wednesday 12th October 10.30pm to 12.30pm: Meet at Sandy Lane car park, off Cornelius Causeway.


Saturday 22nd October 10.30am to 12.30pm: Meet at King Rudding Lane car park, off the A19 near Riccall.


Sunday 23rd October 10.30am to 12.30pm: Meet at Sandy Lane car park.


Places are limited to 20 people per walk so booking is essential via the Estate website: www.http://www.escrick.com/news-and-blog/blog.