33) Ripon Wetlands, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) , 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.
Occasionally the reserve may be shut due to flooding or racecourse operations so please check the YWT website given below
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 approx 2 miles in length as a return linear trip to the far Canal side hide.
You can access past the large 7 bar gate on the approach lane if you have a Radar key- this leads to a designated disabled parking area - near the first hide.
There is one wide swing gate at the side of the larger vehicle gate that has a latch to reach . so assistance may be required if you are unable to lean or stretch to reach such devices.
No steps - no stiles.
From the carpark if parking in the main carpark head through the small gate and head up the lane. The carpark can be a little tricky depending on you wheelchair / equipments size wheels due to it being a gravelled area. This gravel was put down prior to the reserve being handed over to the YWT. Follow the lane - you will soon come to a Willow Arch (LHS) and an accessible shelter (RHS) do stop here and see if you can see dragon and Damselflies, various moths, butterfly and other lovely insects.
Back on the lane and bear right at the end of the lane, here is the dedicated disabled car parking area that has been provided. A little further on and here is the bus shelter style viewing hide. Recently modified by the YWT team to better improve viewing from a wheelchair etc.
To reach the canal side / reed bed and lagoon hide head back to the t junction and follow it left then right. You will see a fenced off path that leads to a single ( swings both ways) gate. Head through this and turn left onto the canal bank. This path can be busy and in places needs a little care as it has a few bumps etc.
You access the Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts Canal Reedbed Hide via a wide gate on your left just before Rentons Bridge (The large bridge that goes over the canal).
For your return to the car you can either retrace your route of keep on the canal to Ripon, its quite a way around and will extend your distance to almost 7 miles. If you do then please note part of this alternative route involves crossing a busy road - also a section of the A road is without a paved safe area. (Hence why this is not my recommendation).
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.
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.
Following feedback the YWT have changed the gate that leads out of the reserve onto the canal bank - to access the reed / lagoon hide situated off the canal bank. See the picture below