Barlow Common Nature Reserve

(Suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs)

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Barlow Common Nature Reserve, at Barlow near Selby in North Yorkshire, is another fantastic reserve so close to Drax Skylark Centre and Nature Reserve. Barlow Common for centuries was used by local people for grazing cattle, pigs, and sheep and also for firewood, sand and gravel. During the agricultural depression the land value fell to almost nothing and in 1908 was acquired by the local railway company and was used as a ballast tip for over 50 years. After the tipping ceased in 1983 British Rail covered the tip with earth. Clay excavated from a nearby field was specially shaped then allowed to fill with water which now forms the mere. In 1986 Selby District Council acquired the site to create a nature reserve and many trees were planted and other parts were left to colonise naturally now supporting over 200 species of wildflower which provide habitat for insects and 21 different types of butterflies so keep your eyes open. Parts of the original common can be seen on the north and west sides consisting of maturing oak, birch and willow woodland. There are four large ponds, marsh and reed beds for the breeding of reed warblers and two of the ponds attract wild fowl and migrating waders such as the sandpiper, greenshank and shelduck. There have been sightings of 140 different types of birds. There are a number of small mammals such as weasels, stoats, wood mice and water voles and also roe deer and foxes can be seen in the woodland areas. The mere is well stocked with a variety of different types of fish and anglers can purchase day and season tickets. Watch out for kingfishers, ducks, geese, moorhens, and cutes as well as robins, tits, finches etc. Do not forget your camera to capture some of this wonderful wildlife. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leads. There is an education service available so school parties are welcome. Barlow Common is also fantastic for wheelchair users as a beauty spot and a great place for fishing.

We park in the free car park and walk into the nature reserve through the gate next to the information board. We walk straight ahead past the fishing pond (mere) to the junction of paths, straight ahead is the scout camp but we turn right to the information centre where there is a toilet suitable for the disabled. At the information centre we turn left then right and just follow the path until we come to a large pond on the right then a little further a smaller pond on the right, right on the edge of the path. We then follow the path taking us through the middle of the reserve back to the information centre here we turn left and go through a gate to the disabled car park only. We turn right to the disabled fishing area and take a path on the left which takes us to a fishing platform with the pond on three sides. We about turn and take the path round the edge of pond to the end where there are steps back to the car park. Wheelchair users would have to take the other path going past the information centre if not using the disabled car park.

Last week our walk was at Drax Skylark Centre only just down the road at the other end of Barlow. That’s two nature reserves within a mile and two great days out!


This is nice easy flat walking with some small inclines and is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.


Mileage is to suit your self using OS map 290.


Barlow Common Nature Reserve in Barlow near Selby in North Yorkshire.


From Selby take the A1041, not the A63, towards Goole and Hull. Barlow is approx 2.5 miles on the left. Take the second sign for Barlow and Nature Reserve. Barlow Common Nature Reserve is on the left.

Toilets and Refreshments

There is a toilet suitable for wheelchair users at the information centre near the disabled car park.
The nearest refreshments are in Selby, only a few miles away, but there are plenty of picnic tables dotted around the reserve for a picnic.

One response to “Barlow Common Nature Reserve”

  1. Alasdair Hunter says:

    My wife and I thought we that we would have a look at the reserve on the way back from Blacktofts Sands. We were impressed and will no doubt return some time in the spring for a better look

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