Mill burn - Duncan Hutt

Mill Burn. Image by: Duncan Hutt.

A narrow strip of grassland straddling the Mill Burn as it falls though the edge of the conifer plantations of Harwood Forest, featuring a diverse range of grassland types.


2km east of Elsdon,
near Whiskershiels Farm

OS Map Reference

NY 953 925
A static map of Mill Burn

Know before you go

3 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

If access has been granted from NWT, car parking is possible on the road side, but please do not block vehicular access through the gate. Alternative parking is available in Elsdon village approximately 2km from the reserve.

Walking trails

There are no paths onto this reserve.


There is no formal access for the general public onto this site. Permitted access would be from the bridleway which crosses the northern boundary of the site between Todholes and the minor 'no through road' south of Whiskershiels farm. Terrain is steep and uneven, and dense vegetation requires visitors to cross the stream (the Mill Burn) in a number of places. There are no footpaths other than the bridleway across the northern perimeter.


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

There is no formal access for the general public onto this site.

Best time to visit

There is no formal access for the general public onto this site.

About the reserve

A narrow strip of grassland lies between blocks of conifer plantations. The Mill Burn runs through the centre of this strip with sections running over bare slabs of limestone, and the steep banks rise up to the forest edge on each side. An overhanging limestone outcrop occurs on a spur leading east from the reserve. The banks are a varied mix of ferns, bilberry, heather and grasses, with some bracken which, after years of management, is now under control and receding. At the upstream end, the site is extremely wet. 

The site contains a diverse range of grassland types including limestone, mire and heath types. Notable species on the site include grasses of parnassus, blue moor-grass in patches along and near the burn, and common butterwort on the mire areas and burn edges. Early marsh-orchid occurs in a few locations in the site. Green spleenwort grows in sheltered locations on the limestone outcrops near the top of the site. Adders frequent the site and golden-ringed dragonfly has been recorded. There are also a number of interesting freshwater species in the burn.

Contact us

Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Contact number: (0191) 284 6884
Contact email:

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)