Askham Bog Nature Reserve

Magnificent royal ferns, rare gingerbread sedge and spectacular displays of water violets are to be found in this mosaic of fen, woodland and meadow.

Askham Bog is remarkable survivor of the ancient fenlands of Yorkshire. It occupies the site of an ancient lake, left behind by a retreating glacier 15,000 years ago - the low hill to the south of the Bog, along which the A64 road runs, is the terminal moraine from that glacier.

Since Roman times it has been used by local communities as a source of peat for fuel, resulting in a mosaic of habitats and a legacy of ditches, probably originally used for peat extraction.

The edges of the Bog are kept base-rich by water draining from the moraine and harbour the greatest diversity of plants and insects, including marsh orchids, marsh violet and meadow thistle. The colony of gingerbread sedge in Far Wood is the largest in England and some of the royal ferns are huge and probably very old.

The site was once renowned for water beetles and though some rare species still occur, many were lost when the adjacent Challoner's Whin was used as a municipal dumping ground early in the 20th Century. However, the moth fauna is still exceptional, with rare species such as the fen square-spot. Birds are abundant, including woodcock, buzzard, willow and marsh tits, grasshopper and reed warblers. In winter huge twittering flocks of goldfinch, lesser redpoll and siskin feed on birch and alder seeds. Roe deer and foxes are seen regularly and the pond is a great place to watch water voles, while overhead many dragonflies including the spectacular emperor can be seen on warm summer days.

Top Tip:

Try an early morning visit for the best chance of an encounter with roe deer or water vole...

In 1946, the Bog was purchased by the famous sweet manufacturers Francis Terry and Arnold Rowntree and the Yorkshire Naturalists' (now Wildlife) Trust was formed to receive it as a gift: Askham Bog therefore holds a special place in the history of nature conservation in Yorkshire.

Decades of active management, including cutting meadows for hay and grazing by Exmoor ponies, have restored in biodiversity.

Public Transport

Buses stop adjacent to the nature reserve on the A64 and in the nearby village of Copmanthorpe. A cycle track links to both York and Tadcaster.


Approaching York on the eastbound A64 take the A1036 turn off and then turn sharp left in the car park just after the first set of traffic lights.

Our favourite Askham Bog Pictures

Askham Bog Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group

Species and habitats

Wetland , Woodland
Great Fen-sedge , Great Reedmace , Emperor dragonfly , Woodcock , Siskin

Nearby nature reserves

Bolton Percy Station Nature Reserve
5 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Moorlands Nature Reserve
7 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Wheldrake Ings Nature Reserve
8 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Reserve information

Just off the A1036
North Yorkshire
YO23 2UB
Map reference
SE 575 481
Great for...
Best time to visit
Mar - Sep
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
Open at all times
43.87 hectares

Permissive footpaths. Please keep all dogs on leads. Contact the Trust for disabled access information
Walking information
Permissive footpaths. Please keep all dogs on leads.
Car park available at the entrance of the reserve.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Exmoor ponies grazing
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570


Factsheets and guides for your visit

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