The last day of the first half of the year and we headed north of York to Ashberry, near Rievaulx. I have heard much about this place from a variety of people including colleagues and family friends. The reserve is not well marked as yet, though this should change soon.
Taking the left turn signed Scawton and Old Byland from the Helmsley to Stokesley road, you drop down through the woods and shortly after the quaint little humpback bridge, hang a right. The road bends round to the left after crossing another stream and then up a hill. After c200 metres there is a narrow layby on the left and this provides parking close to a wooden gate which is the main access to the site. If you carry on a little further you will see a marked bridleway and another pull in. This is where we parked, having missed the main entrance! The bridleway seems heavily used by horses and was consequently quite muddy.
The place was a botanists heaven and was covered in common spotted orchids and twayblades. Many plants went unidentified with a whole range of sedges and rushes present. The place was full of insects, with large numbers of chimney sweeper moths present and it seemed that there had been a large hatch of common blue damselflies. Not many butterflies noted though orange-tip and meadow browns seen. Blackcaps, chiffchaffs and chaffinches sang from the woods, which we didn't really explore as the meadows and stream were so lovely they took all our time. We had a little explore of the stream looking for white-clawed crayfish but we couldn't find any. There were some minnows present and the banks were lined with water mint and flowering common butterwort.
An absolutely stunning place, with lovely scenery and spectacular plants.