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Wharram Quarry Nature Reserve

A species rich chalk grassland, Wharram Quarry is home to many of the characteristic flowering plants that thrive on the thin Wolds soil. Butterflies flit from flower to flower and in the sky you many see and hear the buzzards that nest in the nearby woods.

The nature reserve was actively quarried for chalk between 1919 and the 1940s and was offered to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in the 1960s by owner Lord Middleton after he noticed bee orchids growing on the quarry floor.

The quarry floor has variable depths of soil and consequently different plant communities. In the west, where the spoil was deposited, is now dominated coarse grasses and hawthorn scrub. Several species of grasses can be found including cock’s-foot, meadow and false oat-grasses, red and sheep’s fescues, and quaking grass. Glaucous sedge is widely distributed.

The wildflowers present a beautiful scene, they include the yellow flowers of cowslip rough hawkbit, mouse-ear hawkweed and bird’s-foot trefoil; the purple wild thyme and clustered bellflower; the pink restharrow and the blue common milkwort. Common spotted, pyramidal and bee orchids can all be found in June and July.


Top Tip:


June and July are the best months to visit; try to pick a warm and sunny day to see specialist butterflies like marbled whites and the best orchid displays.


The quarry is one of the few Wolds sites for thistle broomrape which parasitizes woolly thistle. The endangered red hemp-nettle has been introduced from nearby populations along with small-flowered buttercup on the quarry face.

Butterflies abound on sunny days, including plentiful marbled white, small heath, meadow brown, ringlet and common blue. Dingy skippers can sometimes be seen, particularly in the north east corner.

In order to maintain the succession of plants areas of the floor have been periodically scraped back to the chalk. In order to prevent the succession from open flower-rich sward to dense coarse grasses and hawthorn scrub the quarry floor is grazed with the Trust’s Hebridean sheep in winter and parts are mown in late summer.


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

Nearest train station is in Malton.


At the crossroads on the B1248 in Wharram-le-Street, head west towards Birdsall and the nature reserve is about 0.5 miles on the left as the road descends. Parking is limited and in the gateway.


Want to see more of Wharram Quarry Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.

Wharram Quarry Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group


Nearby nature reserves

Jeffry Bog Nature Reserve
6 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Chafer Wood Nature Reserve
11 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Calley Heath Nature Reserve
12 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Station Lane, Wharram
North Yorkshire
YO17 9TW
Map reference
SE 858 653
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
6.82 hectares
Permissive footpaths. Contact the Trust for disabled access information.
Walking information
Permissive footpaths. Keep to footpaths as straying from then can be dangerous as buildings and kilns are unsafe.
Limited roadside parking by the gateway available.
No dogs allowed
Grazing animals
Hebridean sheep in the winter.
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570


Factsheets and guides for your visit