North Cave Wetlands Nature Reserve

North Cave Wetlands is a true example of a 21st Century nature reserve, developed in the footprint of a large sand and gravel quarry. From spring avocets and common terns, summer dragonflies, to wintering flocks of wildfowl, a day spent here at any time of year will reward.


Dryham Lane
North Cave, near Brough
East Riding of Yorkshire
HU15 2LY

OS Map Reference

SE 886328
A static map of North Cave Wetlands Nature Reserve

Know before you go

40 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Free car park on Dryham Lane

Grazing animals

Highland cows and Hebridean sheep

Walking trails

A circular footpath runs around the perimeter of the original section of the reserve, part of which is surfaced and accessible to wheelchair users, as are three of the four hides. Following Dryham Lane to the west from the car park, you will reach Crosslands Hide. This large, hexagonal hide is made from straw bales and has a living green roof. Some paths may close during bird breeding season.


Permissive footpaths. Keep to the marked paths and do not enter the deep water. More information below. 

People using wheelchairs, powerchairs and mobility equipment can find more information about the reserve here, thanks to Accessible Nature.


No dogs permitted
Dogs permitted along Dryham Lane only, not on the reserve


Bird hides
Picnic area

When to visit

Opening times

The nature reserve is open at all times, and the car park is open from 07.30am until dusk.

The Little Butty Bus is open from 8am until 2.30pm Tuesday to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays (next closed 7th-28th June).

Best time to visit

March to September


A mixture of shallow and deep water lakes and reedbeds provide outstanding habitat for passage, breeding and wintering wildfowl, waders, terns and gulls. A 2km perimeter path gives access around the established nature reserve and five hides are positioned to give excellent viewing over key areas for birdwatchers and photographers alike.

Butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies thrive on the grassy banks beside the perimeter path; watch out for the emperor dragonfly and sometimes spy a water vole. There is a small colony of brown argus butterflies in the meadow between Main and Carp Lakes, access to which is opened in summer months.

Every season is a great time to visit North Cave Wetlands: During the winter the reserve has good numbers of wintering wildfowl and waders; spring sees the return of summer visitors which includes avocet, little ringed plover, oystercatcher, and a large black headed gull colony with Mediterranean gulls. North Cave also holds one of the largest breeding colonies of sand martins; in summer the reserve is full of fledgling birds, a wide range of dragonflies, grass snake and stoats; autumn sees the departure of summer visitors and the return of winter visitors along with many passage scarce birds.

And the good news is it's still a work in progress, so will continue to get better for wildlife and people!

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Birds - Little ringed plover; Avocet; Redshank; Sand martin; Sedge warbler
  • Summer: Invertebrates - Brown argus; Emperor dragonfly; Four-spotted chaser; Birds - Common tern; Hobby
  • Autumn: Invertebrates - Common darter; Birds - Migrant waders; Tree sparrow
  • Winter: Birds - Teal; Wigeon; Tufted duck; Water rail; Snipe


The original 40 hectare site was acquired by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 2001. In the following three years 250,000 tonnes of material was moved in, out or around the site to create a suitable open wetland habitat, with established trees confined to the boundaries and to the western end. Six large lakes provide both deep and shallow water with wide margins and islands, connected underground to give control over winter and summer water levels.

Starting in 2008 and finishing 12 to 15 years thereafter an additional 100ha of land to the immediate south and west is being quarried. This will be progressively restored with wildlife in mind before being gifted to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.



Public transport
Nearest bus stop is North Cave village 0.5 miles away.

By car
Come off at Junction 38 of the M62/A63 and take the B1230 east to North Cave. At the first crossroad in the village, turn left onto Townend Lane and follow the brown reserve signs. If approaching north on the A1079 Market Weighton bypass take the minor road south through North Cliffe to North Cave then follow signs. The nature reserve is 15 miles west of Hull, of Cliffe Road on Dryham lane.

Mires Beck Nursery

Mires Beck Nursery is just next door to North Cave Wetlands - it's a perfect place to extend your visit! 

In addition to their 14-acre site and huge array of plants, they have a woodland walk and provide horticultural training for people who have learning difficulties.


Visitors will have different access needs and abilities and we want to provide some basic information about the reserve to help you decide whether this is a place you would like to visit and to help you plan. 

Walking at North Cave Wetlands

A circular footpath runs around the perimeter of the reserve which take one to two hours to complete. Footpaths are mainly grass and stone surface - all on a flat level for very easy walking, wheelchairs and pushchairs. The stone paths are accessible all year round but grass paths can get very muddy in winter.

Footpaths to South hide, Crosslands hide, East hide, Turret hide and Crosslands hide are hard surface footpaths.

Benches are located all around the reserve and in hides.

There are three gates on site - all are easy to open pedestrian gates.


There is a large car park with two disabled parking places situated at the entrance to the reserve.


There are two compost toilets on the reserve with disabled access.

Five hides on site East, South, North, Turret and Crosslands.  All hides except Turret are fully accessible with wheelchair viewing space. All hides have benches.

As the name suggests, there are two flights of steps up to Turret hide with six steps on each flight. This is the only access to turret hide.

One set of steps to Crosslands hide of approx. 8 steps. Also a disabled access path to the hide for wheelchairs and pushchairs,

The Little Butty Bus is on site from 8am to 2-30pm providing hot and cold food and drinks six days a week apart from Mondays.

There is very good mobile signal across the whole reserve.

The What3Words code for the car park is punters.merchant.diner