Millington Wood Nature Reserve

Wood Gate, Millington, YO42 1TZ

Welcome to Millington Wood Nature Reserve

This Local Nature Reserve is a special place to discover the scents and songs of an ancient wood. This stunning woodland is neatly tucked away in a Yorkshire Wolds valley. It is one of the richest botanical woodlands in the East Riding, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

In spring and summer, wild garlic and bluebells fill the wood with colour and scent, and it is alive with bird song. In autumn and winter, orange and yellow tinted tree tops glow in the valley as it becomes a quiet refuge for wildlife.

Millington Wood, which covers 52 acres, was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 1991 in recognition of its wildlife value and its importance to the local community.


This beautiful ash wood occupies Lily Dale and dates back nearly 1000 years to 1086. Lily Dale is a typical dry valley of the Yorkshire Wolds, and has the distinctive features of a chalk karst landscape. These deeply incised and branching Dales around Millington are some of the finest examples in England that remain undisturbed from development.

The wood was owned by several estates, and was let out to tenants to provide fencing materials, furniture and fuel by making charcoal. In the 1960s, commercial forestry operations replaced some ash trees with beech and Norway spruce. The local authority bought the wood in 1986 and opened it to visitors.

Secondary Description

Reserve management

Millington Wood is managed by the council’s Countryside Access Team. Our goal is to balance recreational activities with conserving wildlife.

In the heart of the wood, a pocket of ancient ash woodland still remains. Elsewhere we are removing Norway spruce and beech trees which cast heavy shade. By opening up the canopy, plants and wildlife are reappearing. The timber is turned into charcoal in a kiln. Ash dieback may affect how we manage the wood in the future.

We have widened the woodland ride to make a broad glade. It is divided into sections and coppiced every two years. Coppicing promotes growth by cutting a tree to ground level and letting it grow back. Here we are creating a wonderful rich mosaic of wildlife habitats.

Bat boxes provide extra homes for pipistrelle, noctule and brown long-eared bats. Over time the trees will mature and develop holes for natural roost spaces.

Dicover the Ancient Wood

Walk into the wood and soon you are in the ancient ash woodland area. It is a remnant of the ash wildwood that once covered the Wolds. An ancient wood is one where there has always been woodland, and it has a unique flora and fauna.

Ash comes into leaf late in May, allowing time for flowers to grow before the canopy blocks out sunlight. Wood anemones, wood sorrel, dog’s mercury, early purple orchids, wild garlic and bluebells all grow here. Walk further and notice how other areas look, feel and even smell different.

There are 90 flowering plants recorded here. Uncommon species include chalk-loving baneberry, lily of the valley and toothwort. This unusual parasitic plant attaches to tree roots underground and steals everything it needs from its host, just pushing up a ghostly white flower spike every April.

Watching Wildlife

Woodland birds can be tricky to spot in summer, so their song is a real give away. Visit on an early May morning and listen to the dawn chorus. There are 28 species breeding here, including uncommon marsh tits and migrant redstarts. These birds need tree holes to nest in so we leave dead trees standing in the wood. We put up nest boxes to lend a hand until younger trees mature and natural holes appear.

A walk along the ride is beautiful in summer, with stunning bellflowers towering above the flower filled verges. Giant bellflowers can grow up to six feet, liking the chalky soils. The wood also has smaller nettle-leaved bellflowers that are usually found further south. Enjoy watching the speckled wood, ringlet, comma, peacock and red admiral butterflies fluttering through the dappled sunlight here.

The Charcoal Kiln

Traditional woodland practices have played a key role in conserving Britain’s woods, and are still important here. Charcoal makers once lived in woods and used earth kilns. Today we load beech and sycamore timber into our metal kiln, and after 16 to 24 hours of burning it turns to charcoal.

Code of Conduct

You are welcome to visit this site on foot. Please note that we do not allow camping, barbeques, horseriding or motorbikes. You can bring your dog but you should pick up after it and it should be kept under close control. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs so please be aware of this when exercising your animal.

Nature Reserves are special places for wildlife, please help keep them beautiful by picking up litter and avoid disturbing wildflowers.


This site has a small car park.


There is an access for all route that takes you along the main woodland ride, although step steps make it impossible for wheelchairs and difficult for pushchairs to access the high viewpoint. A interpretation board will provide you with further information to help you enjoy your visit.

Please note the site has no toilets but these are available nearby in Pocklington. Picnic benches are provided. Charcoal burning takes place as part of the woodland management process and you can learn more about this by asking the charcoal burner.

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Millington Wood Nature Reserve
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