Ripon Wetlands wins award for disabled access work

Work to make Ripon City Wetland nature reserve more accessible has been rewarded.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 11:54 am

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which manages the site, has been crowned the winner of Open Country’s Good Access Award, which champions countryside access for all.

The accolade was given for the Trust’s recent work to improve accessibility at the nature reserve including the resurfacing of rough gravel paths, removing gates, erecting an accessible shelter and providing blue badge parking bays in the car park.

David Shaftoe, Open Country’s Chief Officer said: “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.

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“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, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Area Manager for North Yorkshire, together with nature reserve assistant Dave Powell, accepted the award from some of Open Country’s disabled members.

Jonathan said: “If lockdown has shown us one thing, it is that nature is so important for people’s health and wellbeing.

“By creating accessible nature reserves like Ripon City Wetlands we can achieve this vision.

“To win this award is such a thrill, after what has been a tough couple of years.”

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.

Previous recipients of the Good Access Scheme award have included Rodley Nature Reserve, RSPB Fairburn Ings, National Trust Nostell and Sustrans.

As well as running activities for disabled people, Open Country charity provides information and advice about improving access to the countryside to outdoor organisations and landowners.