Wharram Quarry Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Parking informationLimited roadside parking by the gateway available.
Grazing animalsHebridean sheep in the winter.
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.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitJune 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.
- 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.
Nearest train station is in Malton.
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.