Brayton Barff is not easy to miss. Based in the southern section of the Vale of York
the Barff is the largest of two hills higher than the miles of surrounding flatlands
that the vale is famous for. The other hill is almost adjoined and is called Hambleton
The Barff has a covered reservoir set in a woodland at a popular local beauty spot
of some ornithological interest. Located between the villages of Brayton and Thorpe
Willoughby and just off the A19 to the south of Selby it is easily accessible.
The walk is through woodland and grassland and is quite easy. The footpath undulates
through the woodland, although none of the slopes are very steep. The stoned surfaces
of the main path are suitable for wheelchair users. The walk starts and finishes
at the car park. Take the surfaced path through the lower gate from the car park.
Follow this path around the Barff clockwise returning to the car park via the upper
gate. There are many footpaths, feel free to walk which ever path you prefer, all
are good for various reasons. Beware of mountain bikes and horses as this is an open
public area and although neither are ‘officially’ allowed it is an excellent community
area and all users usually respect each other.
Apart from the native and passing wildlife Brayton Barff is also a superb area visually
all the year round, the highlights being anytime autumn but especially the bluebell
display in late April through May. Some recent intruders do need cutting back or
uprooting, particularly the Himalayan balsam. Certain workings regarding the pipelines
to the (covered) reservoir on top of the Barff have also resulted in really heavy
growth of brambles where there used to be trees. This area to the south east side
has been a benefit to many nesting birds and insects as it is almost impenetrable
to man or beast.
Because Brayton Barff is an area well used by dog walkers, myself included, most
of the day, it is perhaps not the best spot around for ground nesting birds but other
ground creatures seem immune to the presence of the canine community. Rabbits galore,
brown hare, foxes and badgers are here if you know where to look as are stoats which
are harder to locate but are often seen almost under your feet for a very fleeting
moment. In 2006 a family of them were often seen at various times at the very top
of the Barff from where you can overlook York.
A couple of bird feeding stations which are run by individuals helps keep the bird
life around all year and although not famous for very rare species, the Barff does
have a fair and entertaining selection. Tits include blue, great, willow and long
tailed many of which nest in pretty obvious places as well as the nesting boxes available.
There are also a good number of greater spotted woodpecker pairs and at least 1 pair
of greens, song and mistle thrushes, fieldfare , redwing, blackbirds, chaffinch,
linnet, blackcaps, fly catchers and tree creepers. Jays and rooks nest here along
with what appears to be hundreds of wood pigeons. Not so common species of Chiff
Chaff are resident at least during spring summer and nightjars have been spotted
on occasion although not by myself. In 2008 Brayton Barff also had a single Lesser
Spotted Woodpecker in spring.
Raptors include kestrel and sparrow hawk as residents with the occasional buzzard
and goshawk but this is a rare sighting indeed. I have only seen one once here in
over 30 years. At least 2 pair of tawny owls are regular and all being well barn
owls can be seen around the outskirts of the woodland at twighlight . A fantastic
sight and thanks is owed to the Sherwood family of Barff Farm for their introduction
of owl boxes to the area.
But we mustn’t forget the robins, probably Britain’s favourite bird, for we are
graced with many here (or one that follows everybody, everywhere, always!). Their
appearance, singing and community spirit are enough to lift anyone’s heart even on
a cold wet morning..................
For anyone wishing to live in the area and have easy access to such a wonderful spot,
there are some very desirable properties about.
The Sherwood family mentioned above have converted the old barns at Barff farm into
a number of three/four bedroom properties renovated to provide very comfortable accommodation
situated around a landscaped courtyard. Most are sold now but individual properties
do come up occasionally.
For more photographs of Brayton Barff, please click HERE
From someone who remembers the Barff:
As a boy in the 1950's. the tap on 'tap hill', cold, refreshing water. Installed
just for the summer, then un-installed. (dare you ride your bike down the hill?)
locations that had been used during the WW 11 as firing ranges, digging with a stick
would produce the most amazing amount of spent rounds , which would please any boy.
oh my how they grew , six feet high it seemed to me and it was right good fun to
crash through the plantations of them.
When it snowed, get yourself to Brayton Barff
with your sledge.
And, not least of all, the bluebells, the armfuls us kids collected.
The road from Brayton Barff to Selby was strewn with them as we all got fed up of
carrying them home. Some did end up in the house, but never lasted long.
What a sight
they were though in there natural habitat, a rich blue mist.
As you grew in to your
teens, well... 'Let’s go to Brayton Barff'
Best regards, David Cockerill.
Thank you David!.
My old website for Brayton Barff is now located here and can be seen by clicking
HERE or by direct Internet access at: