25 April 2004
Moorlands, a nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, is just outside of York, north of Skelton (see map below). I’ve visited it many times over the years.
The woodland nature reserve is full of fantastic trees. It is home to several varieties of acer (Japanese Maple), all of which have stunning new leaves at this time of the year. The red varieties look particularly handsome against the evening sunlight.
This woodland is popular with local visitors, and is just the right size for a pleasant, non-strenuous evening stroll. It’s not one of these long-distance walks where you have to go fully equipped with lots of sandwiches, water, sensible clothing, emergency flares, portable toilet, etc.
Though there’s a main path that leads on a circular route through the wood, there are several quiet corners with wooden benches where you can sit and rest and watch the wildlife. Many of the benches have been donated in memory of loved ones, as their inscribed plaques indicate, often mentioning how the person commemorated ‘loved this place’.
I’m not a great fan of rhododendrons, usually (they’re often a bit garish – I call them Loud-odendrons) but there are some splendid specimens here that look right in this woodland setting.
I think though that I prefer the promising buds to the sometimes rather garish flowers. At this time of year, everything is fresh and green, and the buds are full of promise. (Later, if it’s anything like my garden, the leaves will get eaten by snails and vine weevils and the flower buds will get covered in aphids. But I bet it will still be beautiful here.)
As well as the smaller acers and rhododendrons, there are some fine ancient trees, like this massive beech. ‘Tree hugger’ may be a derogatory term, but when you see a tree like this you feel like hugging it. As long as no one’s watching.
This beautiful magnolia was beginning to lose its blossom, but I found at least one perfect bloom.
This seems to be the perfect time of year to visit – not only do we have the dazzling new leaves on the acers and the flowering rhododendrons and magnolias, but a carpet of bluebells too.
Map and further information
View Moorlands Wood, Moor Lane, Skelton, York in a larger map.
The site is managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.