The nature reserve is a small jewel of grassland that hums and buzzes with life in high summer.
Rifle Butts Quarry was created to provide stone for the construction of the railway line adjacent to the nature reserve.
The site was then used as a rifle range from the 1890s to the First World War.
Of particular interest at this small nature reserve is the geological feature exposed on the quarry face. The exposure, of national importance, shows a Cretaceous unconformity, where sediments from the Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous periods were eroded away. In the late Cretaceous period the sea once again covered the area depositing red and then white chalk. Compared to other areas in North Yorkshire some 1000 metres of sedimentary rock is missing from the Rifle Butts sequence. A shelter has been constructed to protect the quarry face from erosion.
In winter the quarry sides provide shelter from the winter wind and on a sunny day it is possible to have a picnic in mid January.
Over 150 plants have been recorded on this site, which still displays some characteristic chalk species including cowslip, marjoram, field scabious and wild basil. The old target marker put has been filled in with topsoil and as a result winter aconite, comfrey, giant bellflower, sweet cicely and leopard’s bane were introduced to the site. Breeding birds include willow warbler and yellowhammer. Ringlet and common blue butterflies breed.
The Trust works to protect the rock exposure and the chalk grassland. Hawthorn and elder scrub is removed from the most important grassland areas and the grassland is maintained by mowing. The Trust also plans to graze the site with sheep.
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.
Market Weighton is served by buses from York and Goole via Holme-on-Spalding-Moor. The Hudson Way cycle route runs on a disused railway line between Market Weighton and Beverley.
After passing Martket Weighton Secondary School continue straight on at the next junction. A mile further on take a sharp turn left, go between the embankments where a bridge once took the Market Weighton – Beverley railway line over the road. The site is on the right hand side at the end of the first field and parking is on the wide grass verge in front of the nature reserve. Please don’t block the gate into the field next to the site.
Want to see more of Rifle Butts Quarry Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.