Centre for nature and green living

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Site Description and Maps

Since the clay capping of the old landfill in 1993-4, St Nicks has been extensively planted up with native tree, shrub and plant species, and now contains areas of scrub, young woodland, thicket, meadow, rough grassland, and coppice as well as a watercourse. The site is managed as a mix of habitats for a range of wildlife and a good educational resource.

The central part of the site is divided between wildflower meadow and rough grassland, along with developing scrub and a few mature willows. The wildflower meadow and scrub provide larval food plants and nectar for a variety of butterflies. Common Blue, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, Ringlet and Meadow Brown are seen regularly with many more species less frequent visitors. The rough grass and scrub contain large stands of teasels and thistles providing seeds for finches. Large groups of goldfinch can be seen in winter along with Chaffinch, Bullfinch and Siskin as frequent visitors.

The south of the site contains a thicket dominated by Elder, Hawthorn and Bramble. These thickets provide cover for nesting robin, wrens, sparrows, dunnocks, blackbirds and thrushes. Song Thrush are seen along with occasional migrant redwings in winter. The northern part of the site contains a considerable number of fruit trees along with well-established ash and alder, and scattered hawthorns. This area feeds large numbers of blackbirds and bullfinches.

The western area of the site is formed by a clay bund acting as a boundary between the nature area and an adjacent commercial site. This whole area has been planted as John Lally Community Woodland over a period of 5 years from 1996-2001. Some trees are well-established now while others are slow growing on the clay substrate. The woodland mix includes ash, lime, field maple, willow, dogwood and oak.

There are linear extensions to the north west and south east of the nature reserve, taking in land alongside the Tang Hall and Osbaldwick Becks. Osbaldwick beck flows into St Nicks from the south east out of a culvert where it remains open for a few hundred metres. It is then culverted again and flows underneath the reserve where it converges with Tang Hall Beck and opens again towards the north West of the site. Blue tits, coal tits, great tits and long tailed tits can be seen feeding on the mature willows and alders along the beck along with a regular kingfisher.

You can check access and more via the See Around Britain reference site here


Map updated 2023


Come explore the green heart of York: a hidden gem just one mile from the city walls

Autumn mornig at St Nicks - dragon stones and trees

Equality Statement:

  • We are fully committed to making sure that our services, special places and the support we offer are as welcoming, inclusive and accessible as possible.  
  • We want St Nicks to reflect a diverse society where we learn from each other and build a healthy respect for each other, both so that we can thrive together today and so that we can live together as sustainably as possible in the future. 
  • We will strive to ensure that people of all backgrounds and characteristics are able to fully gain from and contribute to St Nicks, and we commit to listening to everyone in our community to make sure that this is the case, identifying and addressing issues as they arise.  

Join St Nicks

Over more than two decades, volunteers and supporters have made St Nicks what it is today: a flourishing hub of green inspiration for the city. You can help grow the green heart of York by joining St Nicks. Your support will help us sustain and expand our work.

Join us to help fulfill our vision for York to be a city where people value wildlife, the environment and each other equally to sustain a rich and healthy life for all.

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