Sylvan Nature Reserve

Sylvan Nature Reserve was our first habitat creation project. In 2010 we bought 25 acres (10 ha) of rough pasture, on the banks of the River Nidd, adjacent to the village of Kirk Hammerton near York. This land is quite often flooded with water from the river, which makes it unattractive for arable farming, which is the main type of agriculture in that area. But this wasn’t a problem for us! With support from The Woodland Trust, The Environment Agency and The Forestry Commission, we planted 18,000 British deciduous native trees in 2011. We also sowed 8 acres of wild flower meadow, and more recently, we dug several ponds and a scrape. Sylvan Nature Reserve was a finalist in The Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods competition in 2017.

This project has shown us how ‘benign’ land management can create a haven for wildlife and humans! The increase in biodiversity has been astonishing. The pictures below show how from being a somewhat ‘barren’ field, Sylvan has become a woodland haven.

In 2021 we were fortunate to take the adjoining Windmill Hill, which we are also managing for biodiversity.

Short Walk from Kirk Hammerton

A Guest Blog describes an easy 2 mile walk including the footpath around the perimeter of Sylvan Nature Reserve. Please ensure your dogs are on leads at all times, when on our private land.


You can buy an unusual natural gift here, by dedication or sponsorship of trees, ponds, or wildflowers. No wrapping, no postage! We will email the certificate, showing the location of the dedication gift. Because there is easy access to Sylvan, it is our most popular site for dedication gifts.


Sylvan Nature Reserve is open to the public, and a public footpath goes around the perimeter, along the bank of the River Nidd. Dogs must be kept on leads. There are other paths through our woodlands, some of which are private, and some accessible only to those who have dedicated trees. Please note, however, that there is no public vehicular access. From the triangle in the centre of Kirk Hammerton, Mill Lane leads to our Nature Reserve, but only pedestrian access is allowed. At the electric gates, please go through the pedestrian gate to the left, keep going across the yard, and you will see another pedestrian gate which is the entrance to our reserve. We can welcome groups to our site by prior arrangement. If you would like to bring a school or similar group, for bird watching, nature walk, volunteering or similar activity, please contact us. We can arrange access for a small number of vehicles. Kirk Hammerton is well connected by public transport, with a regular bus and train service from Knaresborough, Harrogate and York.

The grid reference is SE 46968 54538.

To Discover More…

To learn more about the site, its wildlife and our work, you can view the location on Restor here.

You can view the changes over time at Sylvan Nature Reserve below.

If you truly love nature you’ll find beauty everywhere

Van Gogh