Wheldrake is a village and civil parish located 7 miles (11 km) south-east of York. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 1,909.
The parish of Wheldrake covers an area of 4,300 acres (17 km2). It was established before 1066 and after being largely in the possession of Fountains Abbey in the Middle Ages, it became part of a landed estate until the mid 20th century. It has a significant conservation area and a nature reserve of international importance. This, named Wheldrake Ings, is a mile east of the village, and is where many wild flowers flourish and rare birds prosper.
From 1894 until 1935, Wheldrake was located in Escrick Rural District. In 1935 the Escrick Rural District was abolished and its place was taken by Derwent Rural District which administered the local area until the nationwide municipal reorganization of 1974. From 1974 until 1996, Wheldrake was in the Selby District of North Yorkshire. In 1996 the City of York, a unitary authority, expanded its borders to include Wheldrake.
Historically, Wheldrake was an ecclesiastical parish in the wapentake of Ouse and Derwent.
The Wheldrake Ings are part of the internationally significant nature reserve of the Lower Derwent Valley which is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and a Ramsar Convention site. The Ings are areas of flood meadows along the river Derwent which flood seasonally and are rich in wildlife. They are mainly recognised for their significant collection of birds but they also support significant collections of mammals, plants and invertebrates.
Wheldrake Woods in the north of the parish was planted by the Forestry Commission and has mainly conifer trees. The open cultivated agricultural land is not species-rich but the hedgerows, field margins and roadside verges support some small mammals and an increasing number of grasses and flowering plants.