Burton Leonard Lime Quarries

Burton Leonard Credit Kirsten Smith

Burton Leonard Lime Quarries

Once a limestone quarry, this nature reserve is now an oasis for scrub, woodland and grassland plant species. Butterflies bask in the sun and other insects may be found seeking shelter in this quiet spot. The site’s industrial past is still evident, with a number of lime kilns found throughout the nature reserve.


Lime Kiln Lane
North Yorkshire

OS Map Reference

SE 323 629
A static map of Burton Leonard Lime Quarries

Know before you go

4 hectares

Entry fee


Grazing animals

Hebridean sheep

Walking trails

Permissive footpaths. The quarry faces are unstable and should not be approached.


From Burton Leonard village walk along Lime Kiln Lane to reach the reserve. Accessible to wheelchair users.


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

May to September


Burton Leonard Lime Quarries comprises of a mixture of broadleaved woodland, scrub and open glades of magnesian limestone grassland. This special mix of habitats encourages a rich combination of plant species, some of which are locally rare including burnet rose and autumn gentian. Two small populations of the nationally scarce spring sedge are also present in the grassland areas.

The shallow lime-rich soils are nutrient-poor, yet support the most botanically diverse magnesian limestone grassland communities with species including wild thyme, salad burnet, small scabious, rough hawkbit, fairy flax and bird’s-foot trefoil. The screes merit individual recognition due to the differing plant communities they support, including squinancywort, eyebright, betony, field scabious, wild basil, hairy violet, harebell, greater knapweed, clustered bellflower, cowslip and carline thistle. Woodland and calcareous scrub of hawthorn, elder and hazel has developed around the margins of the disused quarries leaving large exposed, sparsely vegetated cliff faces. Ash woodland has developed in several areas below the quarry faces.

The bottoms of the sheltered quarries provide ideal habitats for many butterflies, including green-veined white, meadow brown, ringlet and speckled wood. White-letter hairstreak are also occasionally seen around the elm trees.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - Cowslip; Rare spring sedge
  • Summer: Plants - Squinacywort; Wild thyme; Eyebright; Fairy flax; Invertebrates - Meadow brown
  • AutumnPlants - Autumn gentian
  • Winter: Birds - Red kite


The site was an active limestone quarry from the 19th Century through to 1941, with the worked stone being burnt in the lime kilns on the site to produce quick lime. This material had a wide variety of uses from construction to agriculture. The remains of four lime kilns can still be seen on site as evidence of the nature reserve’s industrial past.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust leases the nature reserve from Mountgarrett Estates, and works to prevent encroachment of trees and shrubs onto the limestone grassland banks.


Public transport
A bus service (Ripon-Knaresborough-Harrogate) passes through Burton Leonard village.

By car
Approach Burton Leonard village from the A61 Harrogate-Ripon road.