Rifle Butts Quarry Nature Reserve

Rifle Butts Quarry Nature Reserve Credit Joanna Richards

Rifle Butts Quarry Nature Reserve

A tiny nature reserve full of wildflowers and butterflies in summer. Rifle Butts Quarry provides an introduction to the wildlife typical of the remaining natural areas of the Yorkshire Wolds. Whilst in winter the quarry sides provide shelter from the wind and on a sunny day it is possible to have a picnic in mid January!


Off Spring Road
Market Weighton
East Riding of Yorkshire
YO43 3JA

OS Map Reference

SE 89704271
A static map of Rifle Butts Quarry Nature Reserve

Know before you go

1 hectare

Entry fee


Parking information

On roadside or 3/4 mile east is a public car park (close to Kiplingcotes Nature Reserve) on the Hudson Way rail trail.

Grazing animals

Hebridean sheep

Walking trails

The Hudson Way rail trail runs adjacent to the site.


Easy access on foot. Contact Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on 01904 659570 for information.


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

May to September


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.

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 site is grazed with Hebridean sheep.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - cowslip; primrose Birds - Willow warbler
  • Summer: Plants -greater knapweed; majoram Invertebrates - yellow meadow ant; small copper; common blue
  • Autumn: Birds - fieldfare; redwing
  • Winter: Plants - winter aconite


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.

Today it is important as a geological site and relict chalk grassland.


Public transport
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.

By car
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.

Accessibility and facilities 

Many of our reserves are small and beautiful but remote. 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. 

Here, there are five narrow wooden steps down into the reserve after entering through a kissing gate. The reserve has a grassy uneven surface and most people can complete a loop of the tiny reserve in a few minutes. 

There is no parking but you can park at Kiplingcotes nature reserve and walk down the Hudson Way trail adjacent to the site. 

The nearest public toilets and shops are in Market Weighton.

Mobile coverage is reasonable depending on your provider. 

The What3Words for the car park is eradicate.outboard.mergers and validated.skip.ribcage for Rifle Butt's kissing gate entrance.