Ashes Pasture Nature Reserve

Ashes Pasture Nature Reserve - Charlotte Bickler

Ashes Pasture Nature Reserve - Charlotte Bickler

An idyllic location in Ribblesdale adds to the charm of this diverse grassland nature reserve. A rare example of an upland hay meadow, only a handful of fragments of these wildlife-rich habitats remain in the Yorkshire Dales.


Off the B6479,
1 mile south of the B6255 junction (Ribblehead)
near Hawes
North Yorkshire
LA6 3JF (nearest)

OS Map Reference

A static map of Ashes Pasture Nature Reserve

Know before you go

20 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

There is no designated car park for the reserve. There is room for 1 car to park 100m from the reserve entrance way, along the B6479 towards Ribblehead on the right. Please note B6479 (Gauber Road) can be busy with fast traffic and poor visibility.

Grazing animals

Sheep and cattle.

Walking trails

The reserve is open access, with no specified walking trails. We ask visitors to be aware of the fragile nature of the flowering plants. Entry is via the gate from B6479.


Wheelchair access is limited to a fenced hard standing containing interpretation board immediately adjacent to reserve entrance.  Land beyond the reserve entrance slopes away quite steeply towards lower fields and is very uneven. Great care to be taken by all visitors, especially in wet conditions.


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

May to June


This reserve is designated as a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to its species-rich grasslands.

Ashes Pasture is made up of a number of different habitat types including acid grassland, wet flush, wooded gill, hay meadow, neural and calcareous grassland. The diversity of habitats and environmental factors lead to high botanical diversity. The site can be divided into the predominately acid grasslands on its upper slopes with areas of calcareous influence leading to high plant diversity. The lower pastures are managed as a hay meadow which produces a herb-rich grassland.

The reserve supports several nationally rare species of flora including over 12 species of orchid such as the nationally scare small white orchid; bird’s-eye primrose; and blue-moor grass.

A wooded gill on the reserve provides suitable habitat for black grouse, while the rush pasture provides cover for snipe through the winter. 

Come the spring common spotted orchid, fragrant orchid and wood cranesbill bring colour to the meadow and curlew can be heard calling from the fields surrounding the meadow.  

In summer greater butterfly orchid, devil’s bit scabious and globeflower can be seen and skylark call over the reserve.

The autumn months offer the potential to see painted lady butterfly and common carder bee and in winter snipe use the rushes as cover and meadow pipit can be seen.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - Fragrant orchid; Wood cranesbill; Birds - Curlew; Cuckoo
  • Summer: Plants - Greater butterfly orchid; Devils-bit scabious; Globeflower, Heath Spotted Orchid; Birds - Skylark
  • Autumn: Invertebrates - Painted lady; Common carder bee; Birds - Flocks of finches
  • Winter: Birds - Meadow pipit, Barn owl


Public transport
The nearest train station is Ribblehead, from where it is a 1.5 mile walk along the road to the reserve.

By car
Off the B6479 I mile south of the B6255 junction (Ribblehead)