David and Lester hand over the Good Access Scheme award to Dave Powell

We were delighted to crown Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as the winners of the 2021 Good Access Scheme award for their commendable efforts in access improvement at their Ripon City Wetlands nature reserve.

Our Harrogate Advisory Group chose the Trust to receive the award following their recent work to improve accessibility at the wetlands site including the resurfacing of rough gravel paths, removing gates, erecting an accessible shelter and providing blue badge parking bays in the car park.

Enjoying the reserve’s accessible paths

David was joined by a small group of Open Country members to present the award to Jonathan Leadley and Dave Powell from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust just before Christmas.

David says: “Rather than just paying lip service to access issues, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have made considered and valuable developments at Ripon City Wetlands and are embracing the opportunity to increase the variety of visitors to the site. A lot of the work is carried out by the Trust’s volunteers and we thank them for their efforts. We think it is important to recognise and celebrate excellence in outdoor access to demonstrate to other landowners and countryside managers how making relatively small steps can open up a site to more people.”

Jonathan Leadley is Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Area Manager for North Yorkshire. He said: “If lockdown has shown us one thing, it is that nature is so important for people’s health and wellbeing. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are dedicated to making Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places accessible to all, and by creating accessible nature reserves like Ripon City Wetlands we can achieve this vision. We have been supported by the fantastic Open Country team for many years and to win this award from them is such a thrill, after what has been a tough couple of years.”

Just one of the many accessible gates being installed to replace stiles in Burley in Wharfedale

Created from a footprint of a working quarry, Ripon City Wetlands was officially opened in 2019. It is home to a vast range of birds and wildlife enjoying a variety of habitats including open water, reedbeds, meadows and grassland. This time of year is ideal for enjoying the nature spectacle of a starling murmuration which often takes place at the wetlands with the birds roosting in its extensive reed bed.

Special mention goes to The Woodland Trust who were Highly Commended for their impressive new access work at Scotton Banks Woods, as well as Burley in Wharfedale Walkers Are Welcome for their great efforts at stile removal on their patch.

Exploring the new paths around Scotton Banks Woods near Nidd Gorge


We look forward to visiting all these sites again soon and supporting them with further access developments across Yorkshire.


If you know of any other outdoor sites or organisations doing great things to improve accessibility, please let us know for the 2022 Good Access Scheme Award.

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