North Cave Wetlands turns 20!

Credit: Jess Bersley

Our North Cave Wetlands nature reserve near Brough in the East Riding is 20 years old today! To celebrate, we’re asking for your help to name three new sections of the nature reserve.

North Cave Wetlands is a truly 21st century nature reserve. From working quarry to thriving wetland, this oasis for wildlife continues to expand as we prepare to open three new sections in spring 2021.

We're asking the public to help us name these new areas, whether that's after a person who loved the reserve, a magical wildlife encounter you've had there, or something completely different! To help get your creative brains buzzing, let's explore the history and future of this amazing nature reserve.

From the past...

The history of the land that makes up what is now North Cave Wetlands has many chapters. The area was once an ancient fenland called Walling Fen, which was drained to create farmland. The land was used for agriculture for decades.

In 1990, the area was transformed into a quarry, as Humberside Aggregates mined for gravel and sand. Quarrying on what is the current North Cave Wetlands reserve finished in 1998, and so the journey from quarry to wetland began, with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust taking ownership of the reserve in 2000. In fact, seeing as the area was originally fenland, you might say we are now bringing the land back to its original form!

For the first time in years, we started to see wildlife return to the area in larger numbers, as well as the joy of seeing rarer species such as the bearded tit and redshank successful breed on the reserve. From avocet feeding by the lake to the largest sand martin colony in Yorkshire, North Cave Wetlands has become an oasis for wildlife in a still actively industrial area.

...to the future

But the story of North Cave Wetlands isn’t over yet! Adjacent areas to the reserve are still active quarries (now led by Breedon). As this work is completed, they transform the areas into bountiful wetlands, which we then manage and protect for wildlife. We have a good relationship with Breedon and the other partners involved, who strongly support and help us to complete our restoration work.

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, but it’s important to remember that just because an area is currently industrial does not mean that it must remain that way for ever – North Cave proves this! Industrial areas can be successfully rewilded and brought back to nature once more.

About the new areas

We’d love to officially welcome the three expansions of North Cave Wetlands into the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust family with new names.

The first two areas (1a and 2a) have been designed as large, shingle islands which will provide valuable breeding habitat for avocet, little-ringed plover, common tern and oystercatcher.

The third area (4, Crosslands North) will be an open body of water with seasonal islands around the north and west sides, and a scalloped east bank and reedbeds along the southern boundary. These variety of habitats will hopefully welcome reed and sedge warbler, reed bunting and common tern as well as a variety of wintering wildfowl.

Though these new areas of North Cave Wetlands have been meticulously designed, we have done so in an attempt to mimic the natural flow of the landscape – we don’t like straight lines on our nature reserves!

This competition is now closed.

We'll choose our favourites from all of the entries and announce the names of the new areas in the spring, when they officially open to the public!