Written by Maureen Robinson
Burton Riggs is a fantastic place to watch wildfowl and waders, particularly during autumn migration and over the winter months. Springtime brings nesting birds to its rich habitats, and a variety of wild flowers.
The reserve is quite stunning and feels remote
The large, open lakes attract tufted duck, pochard and little egret in winter. Ponds surrounding the lakes have been home to great crested newts for many years.
Burton Riggs is a valuable oasis for wildlife and people alike. It’s hard to believe it was created by gravel quarrying for the construction of the adjacent A64. I well recall days in the 1970s when work was in progress!
Although bounded by some industrial areas and housing, it’s quite stunning and feels remote from human habitation.
It has a variety of habitats, and a good, dry footpath running through part of the reserve underneath the A64 roadbridge and out into the industrial area to the east. Permissive paths include a route around the smaller lake specially for the disabled.
Access is by regular bus and train services from Scarborough. If you know Morrison’s supermarket, you’re right on target! The nature reserve is sited just off the A64 out of Scarborough on the opposite side of the roundabout to the supermarket. Car parking is in the reserve’s car park beyond the barrier.
Start from the car park and enter the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Burton Riggs Nature Reserve. Please read the information board. Follow the broad, rough track between grassland and the railway line on your right.
Silver birch and scrub soon screen the A64 to the left. Read a second information board which details this wetland site having been created from old sand and gravel workings. Extraction ceased in the 1990s and the site has colonised naturally.
Observe to your left a mosaic set in a rock amongst the grass. The narrow footpath leads to the roadbridge, with stabilisation to the left bank as you approach. Just ahead is raised seating providing views across the lake.
From here, veer right along the path between lake and railtrack. At a fork, keep left near the lakeside.
Reaching the large lake off right, see to your left a carved stone. It reads, “Jointly developed by NYCC and YWT. This stone donated by Yorwaste Ltd.” The carving of a rose and fox’s head adorn the top.
The steep, grassy bank descends to the water’s edge. The honking of greylag geese, and ‘trumpeting’ of Canada geese may be heard nearby. Gulls, ducks, geese and grebes may be observed on the lake.
The perimeter of an industrial area lies ahead, and ponds are seen to your right. Continue with the lake to your left. The embankment is colonised by rabbits, and sulphur-yellow flowers of coltsfoot spangle the ground in early spring.
Reach a seat near the junction of footpaths. Keep alongside the lake, with a copse to your right. Straight ahead, fencing to your right, bedecked with hazel catkins in season, soon veers right towards the road-bridge. All too soon, your picturesque walk is ended, but why not explore other paths before returning to the car park?
NB Wildlife management includes keeping ponds clear from silting up; rotational coppicing of willow around the lakes, and increasing the area of woodland and scrub for small birds and mammals.
Habitats include grassland, wetland and woodland. Orchids must not be picked. Damselflies and dragonflies are noted.
Map reference: TA 029832.
Opening times: Open at all times.
Please note – no swimming is allowed; no unauthorised fishing; dogs must be kept on leads at all times; children should be closely watched near water’s edge.
Allow a good hour’s level walking and viewing. Take binoculars.
Refreshment: Morrison’s supermarket and cafe and Scarborough Fayre including pub and restaurant.
The first run of Rural Rambles Volume 15 has sold out, a re-print of a limited edition is underway. The booklet contains 17 walks plus larger maps and some illustrations, for £2.50. Entire profits to charities.
For a copy send a cheque for £2.50 payable to EM Robinson and enclose an A5 sized stamped addressed envelope (a 53p stamp will cover cost). Send to Mrs M Robinson, 14 Malvern Crescent, Scarborough YO12 5QW.