Willow Garth Nature Reserve

Willow Garth Nature Reserve provides a window to the past, at a time where the countryside was a mosaic of different habitats each varied in their structure. Lying in the floodplain of the River Aire, the willow scrub and marsh provide good habitat for willow warblers and sedge warblers.

A myriad of wetland habitats including water, marsh and willow carr has resulted from the generally flat and low-lying nature of the land.

This site, excellent for willow, was in fact a commercial osier bed in the past where willow was grown to make baskets and furniture.

Marshland species can be found in the central and western areas of the site, whereas woodland and scrub exists in the north east corner. Close to 140 species of birds make use of these habitats, many of which have been recorded as breeding on site. Reed and sedge warblers, great spotted woodpecker and green sandpiper are amongst the birds that can be found.

Top Tip:

A trip in early spring will provide the ideal conditions to see both emerging and returning wildlife before the vegetation grows up restricting some views.

The variety of habitats also supports a diverse mix of flora including water chickweed, common meadow-rue and alder buckthorn . Crack and grey willow make up the majority of the woodland on the nature reserve with some silver birch and hawthorn. Mammals recorded on the site include the harvest mouse, bank vole, common shrew, pygmy shrew, roe deer and fox.

Owned by Croda and managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the key management aim is to continue a traditional willow coppice. The rest of the site is managed less actively with footpaths kept clear for visitors. Invasive Himalayan balsam is controlled in the summer months and reedbed cutting occurs around the ponds. Ditch maintenance is also undertaken to ensure water is able to flow around the site.

Public Transport

Buses and trains to Knottingley from Leeds, Castleford and Pontefract Monkhill .


Willow Garth is situated almost due east of Knottingly off the A645 . From Knottingly , head eastwards along the A645 , crossing the Leeds to Goole Canal (very near the former works of Croda ). Almost at the bridge, turn left into un-metalled Trundles Lane (a bad junction, use extreme caution). After 200m , where a narrow footbridge crosses a canal ahead, turn sharp right. The unfenced canal is now on the left, the Croda wrks on the right. Continue for ⅓ mile until it leaves the works fence. Park here on the roadside. The nature reserve entrance lies 200m ahead, on the right.

Nearby nature reserves

Brockadale Nature Reserve
4 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Ledsham Bank Nature Reserve
5 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Sherburn Willows Nature Reserve
6 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Reserve information

Stocking Lane
West Yorkshire
WF11 8TH
Map reference
SE 516 241
Great for...
a family day out
Best time to visit
Mar - Sep
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
Open at all times
5.30 hectares
Permissive footpaths. There are areas of deep water away from the paths so care must be taken. Contact the Trust for disabled access information
Walking information
Permissive footpaths.
Limited roadside parking available.
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570
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