Duncombe Park National Nature Reserve
OS grid reference:- SE 601 827
Duncombe Park National Nature Reserve is situated in the grounds of the Duncombe Park, a country house which was built in 1713 in River Rye valley and is the seat of the Duncombe family whose senior member takes the title Baron Feversham. Half of the 450 acres (182ha) of the grounds became a National Nature Reserve in 1994.
The park is home to many ancient trees, some of which are up to five hundred years old, reflecting some of the conditions of the wild wood which covered much of the country until the sixteenth century.
The great gnarled and twisted trees provide a home for rare invertebrates and fungi, Duncombe Park is an important site for wood-feeding insects, rare invertebrates and fungi. It is considered the most important parkland in the north of England for dead-wood insects, Rot holes in the trees provide nest and roost sites for a variety of birds and bats.
Over 2000 oak, beech, lime and field maple saplings have been planted during the last 10 years creating a haven for wildlife. Birds found at Duncome Park all year round include three species of woodpecker, nuthatch and the elusive hawfinch, Britain's largest finch, it has a massive, powerful bill. Always shy and difficult to see, the hawfinch has become even more enigmatic in recent years with a decline in many of its traditional breeding areas. In summer they are joined in the woods by pied flycatcher and redstart.
In springtime the woodland floor is covered in a rich and colourful carpet of bluebells, primroses and wild garlic.
The River Rye flows through the reserve which is home to many rare insects, trout, otter and birds such as dipper, grey wagtail, kingfisher, grey heron and sand martin.
The reserve is managed in conjunction with Natural England.
Duncombe Park is approximately 1 km to the south west of Helmsley on the A170. The site is accessed via a minor road from the town. Car parking is available in Helmsley and in Duncombe Park.