Salt Lake Quarry Nature Reserve

Salt Lake Quarry Credit Jono Leadley

Salt Lake Quarry Nature Reserve

Despite its small size, Salt Lake Quarry Nature Reserve is a very diverse and complex site, with several fragile habitats. Comprising of limestone grassland, quarry cliff faces, pools, fen, flushes and willow scrub the nature reserve supports a rich flora with several nationally scarce plants.


Gauber Rd,
North Yorkshire
LA6 3JF (nearest)

OS Map Reference

SD 774784
A static map of Salt Lake Quarry Nature Reserve

Know before you go

2 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

There is no parking at the reserve. Parking is available in the large lay by 0.5 miles along B6479 (Gauber Road) towards Ribblehead, on the right hand side. Please note B6479 (Gauber Road) can be busy with fast traffic and poor visibility.

Grazing animals

Sheep grazed in Autumn.

Walking trails

There are no designated walking trails. The limestone on site becomes very slippy in wet conditions and it is recommended that the site is avoided in these conditions.


Entry is via a gate from a track leading to Colt Park Farm from the B6479. Not suitable for wheelchair users. Please take care underfoot and do not access in wet conditions.

Salt Lake Quarry is a small and fragile site with difficult terrain, cliff faces and scree slopes. Young children to be under close supervision at all times. We ask all visitors to remain on the single path and to take care on the uneven terrain and near to cliff faces.


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

March to June


This disused limestone quarry on the edge of the Settle to Carlisle railway is now managed for its botanical and invertebrate interest. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and home to several nationally rare or scarce plants such as rigid buckler fern on the cliff faces, bird’s-eye primrose in the damp grassland and northern spike rush around the pools. The cliff faces support many ferns such as brittle bladder-fern, hart’s-tongue fern, maidenhair spleenwort and moonwort.

Flowering plants of interest include wood cranesbill, hare’s-tail cottongrass and ox-eye daisy, along with several species of orchid including frog orchid and common twayblade. The damp scrub along the base of the cliff face also supports an impressive number of mosses and lichens.

The site has been undergrazed in the past and scrub and course grasses have encroached on the grassland. Since taking on the lease of the site in 1985 Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has worked to remove non-native species and manage the scrub encroachment. Salt Lake Quarry is now grazed by the Trust’s Hebridean sheep in autumn, which are great at keeping on top of the coarse vegetation.


Salt Lake Quarry covers 2ha and was originally excavated by Craven Lime Co. Ltd to produced crushed limestone ballast and building stone for the Settle-Carlisle railway. Since the quarry became inactive a mosaic of habitats have developed leading to its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - Blue moor grass
  • Summer: Plants - Northern spike rush; Bird's-eye primrose; Frog orchid; Common twayblade; Moonwort; Invertebrates - Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar
  • Autumn: Plants - Hart's-tongue fern
  • Winter:  Fungi - Lichens, Mammals - Stoat


Public transport
Nearest train station is Ribblehead, from where it is a 1½ mile walk along the road to the nature reserve.

By car
Off the B6479, one mile south of the B6255 junction (Ribblehead).