Wharram Quarry Nature Reserve Credit Tom Marshall

Wharram Quarry Nature Reserve

A species rich chalk grassland, Wharram Quarry is home to many of the characteristic flowering plants that thrive on the thin Wolds soil. Butterflies flit from flower to flower and in the sky you many see and hear the buzzards that nest in the nearby woods.


Station Lane,
North Yorkshire
YO17 9TW

OS Map Reference

SE 858 653
A static map of Wharram Quarry Nature Reserve

Know before you go

7 hectares

Entry fee


Parking information

Limited roadside parking by the gateway available.

Grazing animals

Hebridean sheep in the winter.

Walking trails

Permissive footpaths. Keep to footpaths as straying from then can be dangerous as buildings and kilns are unsafe.


Permissive footpaths. Please contact us on 01904 659570 for disabled access information. Further information below. 


No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

June to July


The quarry floor has variable depths of soil and consequently different plant communities. The west of the reserve, where spoil was deposited, is now dominated by coarse grasses and hawthorn scrub. Several species of grasses can be found including cock’s-foot, meadow and false oat-grasses, red and sheep’s fescues, and quaking grass. Glaucous sedge is widely distributed.

The wildflowers present a beautiful scene, they include the yellow flowers of cowslip rough hawkbit, mouse-ear hawkweed and bird’s-foot trefoil; the purple wild thyme and clustered bellflower; the pink restharrow and the blue common milkwort. Common spotted, pyramidal and bee orchids can all be found in June and July.
The quarry is one of the few Wolds sites for thistle broomrape which parasitizes woolly thistle. The endangered red hemp-nettle has been introduced from nearby populations along with small-flowered buttercup on the quarry face.

Butterflies abound on sunny days, including plentiful marbled white, small heath, meadow brown, ringlet and common blue. Dingy skippers can sometimes be seen, particularly in the north east corner.

In order to maintain the succession of plants, areas of the floor have been periodically scraped back to the chalk. To prevent the succession from open flower-rich sward to dense coarse grasses and hawthorn scrub the quarry floor is grazed with the Trust’s Hebridean sheep in winter and parts are mown in late summer.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Invertebrates - Dingy Skipper; Plants - Colt's foot; Cowslip
  • Summer: Plants - Thistle broomrape; Wooly thistle; Pyramidal orchid; Invertebrates - Marbled white; Small heath
  • Autumn: Plants - Autumn gentian; Carline thistle
  • Winter: Birds - Fieldfare; Redwing; Mammals - Stoat


The site was actively quarried for chalk between 1919 and the 1940s and was offered to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in the 1960s by owner Lord Middleton after he noticed bee orchids growing on the quarry floor.


Public transport
Nearest train station is in Malton.

By car
At the crossroads on the B1248 in Wharram-le-Street, head west towards Birdsall and the nature reserve is about 0.5 miles on the left as the road descends. Parking is limited and in the gateway.


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. 

Walking at Wharram Quarry 

The ground is level but uneven. The reserve has a grassy and some stony ground and sits in the floor of a large old chalk quarry. 

An unmarked and unsurfaced informal permissive footpath of about 850 metres provides a circular loop through the chalk grassland of the reserve and takes about 20 minutes or longer to complete. There are no benches on the reserve.

There is a small kissing gate at the reserve entrance which is not accessible for wheelchairs.


There is parking for one vehicle on sloping rough gravel at the gate entrance, which is off a quiet country road but situated on a hill near blind corners.


There is no mobile coverage on the reserve.

The nearest public toilets and shops are in Malton about 7 miles away. There is a pub in North Grimston about 3 miles away.

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