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Birdwatching & Wildlife in Harrogate & District

With wildlife around every corner, any walk in Harrogate District, even just a short one, will reward wildlife lovers.  For a real treat there is a selection of walks, viewing locations and attractions we would recommend.

Nidderdale AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) is home to many wildlife species, some of which are considered to be endangered species.

The AONB’s beautiful moorland heather and blanket bog supports many habitats with upland hay meadows displaying wild flowers. These moorlands also provide an ideal environment for amphibians and reptiles, and skylark can often be heard, though not always seen due to the heights they fly to. 

It may be a rare sight but otters have been seen frolicking in the river Nidd up as far as Darley and Summerbridge.

Discover a wealth of walks and some hidden gems along your way, have your binoculars at the ready for lapwings, curlew, snipe and black grouse.

Birdwatchers will also delight in spotting red kites and buzzards. A question often asked is how can you tell the difference? The answer: buzzards have broader wings and shorter less defined tails and if you can hear it, it’s a very probably a buzzard.

You will also find family learning trails to explore and interesting facts, things you never knew about nature and the surroundings especially aimed at young school children.

There are nature reserves hosting natural flora where oyster catchers, willow warblers and flycatchers nest and feed happily in idyllic surroundings.  Geese and waterfowl are easily observed at the many reservoirs in the area, especially in the Washburn Valley.

Explore unforgettable heritage sites, reservoirs, beautiful woodlands and riverside paths all with their own inhabitants and many stunning and surprising views.

With all this there is also great accommodation from relaxing country Inns and homely B&B’s to luxurious spa hotels, as well as welcoming pubs and eateries. 

So make sure you plan a short stay or longer to explore the amazing wildlife on our doorstep.

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Number of items: 9

  1. Hackfall Woods

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    Hackfall Woods




    Hackfall is a stunning woodland site near Masham, with lakes, waterfalls, follies and an intricate network of paths to explore stretching along the banks of the River Ure.

    There is something about the wild splendour of Hackfall Woods that simply inspires creativity.

    Nineteenth century writers...

  2. Stainburn Forest MTB Trails & Walks

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    Stainburn Forest MTB Trails & Walks


    Cycle Route


    The man made mountain bike trails at Stainburn Forest offer a selection of short routes that reward repeated riding and test any riders ability. 

    The forest also provides habitats for a variety of bird and wildlife and offers rich and diverse fauna.

    Stainburn Forest is high on technical...

  3. Scar House Reservoir

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    Scar House Reservoir



    Pateley Bridge

    This stunning reservoir built in the 1930 from over 1 million tons of masonry stands 55 metres tall above the River Nidd and is a popular spot for walkers, cyclists and sightseers.

    Building the reservoir in such a remote spot necessitated not only the building a railway up the valley, but also...

  4. The Giant Hedgehog

    Add Studfold Adventure Trails to your Itinerary

    Studfold Adventure Trails


    Nature Trail

    Pateley Bridge

    Studfold is superbly situated in the heart of beautiful Upper Nidderdale; ‘one of England’s hidden gems’.

    Set amongst the dry stone walls of hill farms near Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire and with our own camping and caravan park.

    Fun for the whole family and the chance to experience...

  5. Gouthwaite Reservoir Nature Reserve

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    Gouthwaite Reservoir Nature Reserve


    Bird Watching

    Pateley Bridge

    Gouthwaite Reservoir Nature Reserve and its site of Special Scientific Interest attracts a wonderfully wide range of wetland birds as well as some of the most majestic raptors in the area.

    Gouthwaite Reservoir Nature Reserve has a free car park and three view areas along the reservoir, which drops...

  6. Washburn Valley Birds Walk

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    Washburn Valley Birds Walk


    Walking Route


    Wander through woodland, along river banks and admire views of the reservoir and the Washburn Valley. Historically this walk is very interesting with a packhorse bridge, Dob Park and a monk's trail.

    Nearest village: Timble. Length: 6.5 miles (10.5km).   Time (approx): 3 hours.   Difficulty:...

  7. Thruscross Reservoir - Walk

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    Thruscross Reservoir - Walk


    Walking Route

    Pateley Bridge

    This walk of 4.5 miles follows the edge of Thruscross Reservoir, the top most and newest reservoir of the Washburn Valley.

    Often referred to as ‘West End’ after the village it swallowed up, Thruscross is famous for the appearance of the village when water levels hit severe lows.


  8. Stave

    Add Staveley Nature Reserve to your Itinerary

    Staveley Nature Reserve


    Nature Reserve


    The 84 hectare Staveley Nature Reserve consists of a shallow lagoon edged with reedswamp, fen and flower-rich grassland with scrub and pasture.

    The reserve features a number of different plant communities, most of which can be seen from the public footpath.

    Over 230 plant species are found,...

  9. Bewerley Industrial Heritage Trail

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    Bewerley Industrial Heritage Trail


    Walking Route

    Pateley Bridge

    This route can be started from Pateley Bridge or the car park at the Coldstones Cut. Comprised of two loops forming a figure of eight the steeper longer route stretches down into the valley through the village of Bewerley, while the shorter but less well defined loop circles the village of...

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