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North Cave Wetlands Nature Reserve

North Cave Wetlands is a true example of a 21st Century nature reserve, developed in the footprint of a large sand and gravel quarry. A day spent here any time of the year will reward visitors with close up views of a range of wetland wildlife. And the good news is it's still a work in progress, so will continue to get better for wildlife and people!

North Cave Wetlands, although a former sand and gravel quarry, is now an oasis of thriving wildlife.


A mixture of shallow and deep water lakes and reedbeds provide outstanding habitat for passage, breeding and wintering wildfowl, waders, terns and gulls. A 2km perimeter path gives access around the established nature reserve and four large hides are positioned to give excellent viewing over key areas for birdwatchers and photographers alike.

Shallow gravel islands have been created in three lakes to provide breeding grounds for little ringed and ringed plovers, avocet, oystercatcher, lapwing and common tern. There is a resident population of tufted duck, gadwall, great crested and little grebe and sometimes shoveler. In spring and autumn small numbers and migrant wading birds pass through. Reed and sedge warblers and reed buntings are common in and around the reedbed and north side of the nature reserve.

Butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies thrive on the grassy banks beside the perimeter path; watch out for the emperor dragonfly and sometimes water vole. There is a small colony of brown argus butterflies in the meadow between Main and Carp Lakes, access to which is opened in summer months.


Top Tip:

Don't miss early May when weekend counts regularly record around 80 species of breeding and passage birds


The original 40 hectare nature reserve was acquired in 2001. In the following three years 250,000 tonnes of material was moved in, out or around the site to create a suitable open wetland habitat, with established trees confined to the boundaries and to the western end. Six large lakes provide both deep and shallow water with wide margins and islands, connected underground to give control over winter and summer water levels.

Starting in 2008 and finishing 12 to 15 years thereafter an additional 100 ha of land to the immediate south and west is being quarried. This will be progressively restored with wildlife in mind before being gifted to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Currently some 500 pairs of sand martins breed in the neighbouring quarries and feed over the site. During 2012 Dryham Ings, 20 ha of flood meadow, was completed; the remainder will comprise more lakes, flood meadow and reedbeds.


If you're going to North Cave Wetlands, why not visit Tina at the Wild Bird Cafe.

Open 7 days a week by the entrance, selling a range of hot drinks and snacks. You can even order a sandwich whilst 'on the move'!


Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.


Public Transport

Nearest bus stop is North Cave village 0.5 miles away.


Come off at Junction 38 of the M62/A63 and take the B1230 east to North Cave. At the first crossroad in the village, turn left onto Townend Lane and follow the brown reserve signs. If approaching north on the A1079 Market Weighton bypass take the minor road south through North Cliffe to North Cave then follow signs. The nature reserve is 15 miles west of Hull, of Cliffe Road on Dryham lane.


Want to see more of North Cave Wetlands before your visit? Have a look below.

Our favourite North Cave Wetland Pictures

North Cave Wetlands Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group



Nearby nature reserves

North Cliffe Wood Nature Reserve
3 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
North Newbald Becksies Nature Reserve
3 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Rifle Butts Quarry Nature Reserve
6 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Dryham Lane
East Riding of Yorkshire
HU15 2LY
Map reference
SE 886 328
Great for...
a family day out
getting away from it all
overwintering birds
spring migrant birds
Best time to visit
Dec - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
38.98 hectares
Permissive footpaths. Keep to the marked paths and do not enter the deep water. Contact the Trust for disabled access information - part of the circular path is surfaced and accessible for wheelchair users. Dogs are allowed only on Dryham Lane (on leads please), and not within the reserve.
Walking information
A circular footpath runs around the perimeter of the original section of the reserve, part of which is surfaced and accessible to wheelchair users, as are three of the four hides. Following Dryham Lane to the west from the car park, you will reach Crosslands Hide. This large, hexagonal hide is made from straw bales and has a living green roof. Some paths may close during bird breeding season.
Parking on Dryham Lane.
No dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570