33) Ripon Wetlands, Nr Ripon Racecourse, Boroughbridge Road,, Ripon, HG4 1UG.
The postcode can be hard to follow using a satnav - your heading for the Stables part of Ripon Racecourse, here the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) carpark is found at the very end of a long track.
You may find it useful to navigate to brink.pounding.bedspread on the fantastic "what3words" app. Which is a fantastic app to use to boost your confidence when you head outdoors.
My route is 6.58 miles in length. Tho you can shorten the route and also do it in two halves, moving by road vehicle in between the two. Or see the more detailed info further down the page.
There are a couple of wide swing gates that have a latch to reach - also the gates open toward you as you enter that section, less than handy if you are as I was on your own. A review of the gates is taking place that may lead to "swing both ways' gates being installed.
No steps - no stiles- one problem gate that I could not get through - more detailed info on the alternative way to the reminder of the nature reserve.
The nature reserve has sadly been split into two sections due a kissing gate - that will prevent all but the shortest wheelbase mobility scooters and wheelchairs with an attachment fitted, from getting through!
The second bit ( unless you can somehow squeeze around the kissing gate at the end of a long path) is accessed from the canal bank via a wide gate. Do venture along this path as its a lovely bird watching location.
You can as I did join ups the two sections of the same reserve by heading back to Boroughbridge Road and heading towards Ripon itself. Accessing the car park of the Canal & Rivers Trust, on your left just after the racecourse.
Here you pick up the accessible canal path ( turn left on the canal bank) and head a mile or so to Rentons Bridge. You access the Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts Canal Reedbed Hide via a wide gate on your left just before Rentons Bridge- that goes over the canal.
Please be warned if you do decide to do both hides and travel in-between not using a car, that there is a short section on Boroughbridge Road that DOES NOT have a pavement. The road users can be travelling quite fast and might be distracted by the racecourse as they pass. Your on the road for about 300m - handy to wear a fluorescent high visibility jacket as I did for my visit.
Much of Ripon and the canal side is accessible- do please also look at the info that Debbie North ( Of "The Outdoor Guide, TOG), has produced.
Facilities on site:
No toilets unless you can use one at the racecourse?
Dogs not allowed in the actual reserve unless a guide or assistance dog.
Dogs are permitted on the canal path and to the Canal Reed Bed hide.
Ripon Wetlands is owned and managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, it opened after being handed to the YWT from the quarry operators. It is the quarry company who put all the gravel down before the site was handed over to the YWT.
The official Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Ripon Wetlands carpark is deep gravel, the path to the Riverside Lagoon (500m) is less deep gravel and fairly easy to travel on in a wheelchair. You can cut out the worst of the gravel by driving through the vehicle access gate directly to the Riverside Lagoon hide. To do this you will need a Radar Key to operate the Red Radar Key padlock securing the gate.
So if accompanied and or able to unlock and open a wide 7 bar gate - you can enter via this gate and drive right to the Riverside Lagoon Hide - cutting out a fair distance of lighter gravel path.
The paths in this section of the nature reserve are reasonable for most powered wheelchairs and such as the Batec that I use. A manual wheelchair being self propelled will have some slight issue negating the gravel but a freewheel or decent sized front castors will over come this.
My full route including the "no path -go on the road section".
From the carpark behind then Stables block go through the gate in the corner- drive ( if you wish but you need a Radar key to operate the padlock) , once through the gate head to the end and turn left - you can drive to this - you will find the Riverside Lagoon hide on your right. If you wish you can also pass this hide and go through another wide gate at the end of the path, I had a look but did not go too far as the dirt track was very uneven and i was on my own. From the Riverside Lagoon Hide head back the way you came and bear left - follow then path as it meanders to the right. Here you get a good view of the Canal Reed Bed lake. At the end off this wide path is a kissing gate that I was unable to get through. Short wheelbase scooters might be able to make it. Indeed Mountain Trikes would too I feel.
As I was not able to pass - I then retraced my route back to the carpark, headed out turning left on Boroughbridge Road- went passed the racecourse until in reached a small Canal & Rivers Trust carpark on the left (heading towards Ripon). Here you can access the canal path via a wide gate or head a little down the lane to an opening ( no gate). Turn left and keep the canal on your right. You progress along the canal path, a few wee rooty bits- go past a few locks with small hills, and then a wide arched footbridge over the marina access point. Eventually you reach Rentons Bridge - access to the Reed Bed Hide is via a wide gate.
To return you just retrace your route there.
What might you see?
I went with quite low expectations as the nature reserve is relatively new. How wrong was I?
During my visit many types of fowl and geese. Thousands of Lapwing, less common waders (I went 22nd Aug) and the water level had been reduced to encourage waders to visit. Sandpiper, Bittern, and loads of species. The highlights of my visit was two Osprey hunting across the water, Hobby and a Marsh Harrier.
The YWT are currently looking at improving accessibility across the whole site - and hopefully will install a more suitable gate allowing access to the canal bank and the Reed Bed Hide.
The site is also excellent for Butterflies, Moths, Kingfisher, Otter.
The crossbar has now been removed giving a clearer view for the disabled visitor.