Barlow Common nature reserve

Find information about Barlow Common nature reserve, fishing permits and the history of the area.

Barlow Common Nature Reserve has abundant flora and fauna which can be enjoyed the year round. Once common grazing ground, it has now been declared a Local Nature Reserve. This important status recognises its special interest and the conservation of wildlife and habitats to safeguard their future.

Barlow Common Nature Reserve is now managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. To find out more about Barlow Common visit their page on the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust website dedicated to the nature reserve.

Fishing Permits

We no longer issue fishing permits for Barlow Common Nature Reserve. 

For season permits commencing 1 April please view the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust website or telephone 01904 659570.

History and Natural History

For centuries, Barlow Common was used by local parishioners for turning out cattle, pigs and sheep to graze; for firewood and for sand and gravel. The land value fell to almost nothing during the agricultural depression and it was acquired by the local railway company in 1908. It was used intermittently as a ballast tip for over 50 years.

Remnants of the original common can be seen around the northern and western margins. This consists of maturing oak, birch and willow woodland, marsh, reedbed, significant for its breeding reed warblers and four large ponds. Two of these attract wild fowl and migrating waders, including shelduck, greenshank and sandpiper. Almost 140 types of bird have been seen at Barlow Common.

In 1983, tipping ceased and British Rail took the initiative to reclaim the land by covering the former tip with earth. This took the form of clay excavated from a nearby field. The resulting depression was specially shaped, allowed to fill with water and now forms the mere. Selby District Council acquired the site in 1986 to create a nature reserve.

Many trees have been planted since 1984 to create woodland. Consisting of oak, birch, wild cherry, rowan, willow, alder, hazel, hawthorn and elder. It is a rich wildlife habitat particularly suitable for small birds such as dunnocks, tits and willow warblers.

The rest of the tip area has been allowed to colonise naturally and now supports over 200 species of wildflower such as evening primrose, ox-eye daisy, teasel, vipers bugloss, red and white campion and bird's foot trefoil. This rich flora provides a home for a great variety of insect life, notably 21 different types of butterfly. Meadow brown, common blue, and small copper are often seen. A visit to the common in spring is worthwhile to hear the nesting skylarks singing.

Small mammals such as water voles, wood mice, weasels and stoats are present. Occasionally, fox and roe deer from neighbouring woodland are seen.

Barlow Road
United Kingdom
Venue notes

Barlow Common is easily reached from the A1041 Selby to Snaith road by taking the southern-most turning to Barlow village. The main entrance and car park, which is free of charge, are located on the left 2/3 miles from the A1041.