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Bishop Monkton Railway Cutting Nature Reserve

A small haven for wildlife tucked away in an intensively agricultural landscape. Cut into the magnesian limestone belt, this stretch of the now disused London and North Eastern Railway line provides ideal conditions for lime-loving plant species. The rich abundance of flowers and sheltered nature of the site provides sun traps for basking insects, particularly for a number of butterfly species.



Part of the Harrogate to Ripon line of the London and North Eastern Railway, this section became disused in 1967.

Once the railway went out of use nature began to take the site over, with flourishing wildflowers and the gradual establishment of trees and scrub around the boundaries of the site. This site now comprises an area of increasingly rare, unimproved neutral and calcareous grassland, supporting a good range of plants, including cowslip, wild marjoram, ox-eye daisy, bird’s-foot trefoil, lady’s mantle, salad burnet and St John’s Wort, creating an attractive swathe of colour in May, June and early July.


Top Tip:


With over 70 species of moths recorded, try visiting in the evening to find some of them yourself!


Whilst the line was active a railway worker’s hut with a garden was located by the side of the track and a number of garden plants have survived and are still in evidence on the site today. Whilst not native, these plants provide additional food sources for insects within the nature reserve and give tantalising glimpses into the industrial past of the site.

The perimeter is bounded by a dense belt of scrub, providing an important habitat for birds, mammals and invertebrates. This scrub is particularly significant in the local area, as the nature reserve is surrounded by arable farmland that provides few such habitats.

In managing this nature reserve, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust aims to maintain the extent and quality of the grassland, along with its margin of scrub.


Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.


Public Transport

A bus route passes through the village of Burton Leonard (although the nature reserve is some distance outside the village). A top tip from a regular visitor said "Take the number 36 Ripon - Harrogate - Leeds bus and get off at Bishop Monkton crossroads and walk down the hill. If you then walk down to Bishop Monkton you can then go through the village, along the riverside and then along the canal towpath back into Ripon.


The nature reserve lies west of the village of Bishop Monkton. From Harrogate take the Bishop Monkton turning off the A61 Ripon road; continue over the hump back bridge towards the village. Turn round and return to park on the left hand verge, well away from the bridge, which is ‘blind’ and used by fast traffic. Entrance to the site through the farm gate close to the bridge and a kissing gate approximately 20m down the edge of the field.





Want to see more of Bishop Monkton Railway Cutting before your visit? Have a look below.

Bishop Monkton Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group



Nearby nature reserves

Burton Leonard Lime Quarries
2 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Staveley Nature Reserve
4 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Ripon Loop Nature Reserve
5 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Moor Road
North Yorkshire
Map reference
SE 312 660
Great for...
a family day out
Best time to visit
May - Sep
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
1.85 hectares

Permissive footpaths. Contact the Trust for disabled access information.
Walking information
Permissive footpaths. Dogs are not permitted on the reserve.
Limited roadside parking available.
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570


Factsheets and guides for your visit