- Although most of the Vale of York was a wet marshy area before drainage for agriculture, the heaths are located on large areas of sand left by glaciers. The sandy areas are very free-draining, so only plants which like dry acid and peaty soils prosper here. The nature reserve is the last remnant of these once extensive heaths at Allerthorpe, because the modern conifer plantations have transformed the landscape.
- The nature reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
- A modern story tells of how, prior to the tree plantations, a wartime officer out training saw his tank disappear into the soft peat!
Information kindly supplied by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council.