Welcome to

Ben Rhydding

Nature Reserve




Please note the reserve remains open and welcome for local visitors to enjoy as part of their daily exercise routine. Please ensure you comply with government guidelines regarding social distancing.  Whilst we have suspended work parties, volunteers will endeavour to keep the paths open but the vegetation does grow back quickly! Going forward we will be making paths wider to make it easier to pass others.  

Alongside the beautiful river Wharfe near Ilkley, the Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits Nature Reserve has a variety of habitats and is a great place to observe birds, plants, butterflies and dragonflies and if you’re really lucky you may even spot an otter!

Whilst there is interest all the year round the best times are Spring and early Summer where the plants, butterflies and birds are at their best.  Our famous orchids peak around the 2nd week in June

The reserve is owned by Bradford Council and has been managed by a small group of volunteers from the Wharfedale Naturalists Society since 2007.  This has involved the control of invasive weeds, woodland management, footpath maintenance, litter picking,  scrub clearance, wildlife surveys and a range of other activities to try and improve the site and maximise biodiversity.

With the support of Natural England,  the site was declared a Local Nature Reserve in October 2013.  We were all then thrilled when, on Tuesday 6th May 2014, the Lord Mayor of Bradford joined us to celebrate our success with our official opening.  Tim Howson created this great website for us in the same year.

Over the following years, we have largely got the Himalayan balsam under control, our main focus is on controlling the bramble, removing hawthorn and re-establishing species that have been lost or are appropriate to the site.

We hold regular workgroups, usually the 2nd Saturday of the month from 9.30 until about 12.30.  We are always grateful for new volunteers – no experience is necessary and everyone works at their own pace and tools are provided why not give us a try?

If you would like to join us or arrange a group visit ( we can give guided walks through to sessions with groups such as Guides and Scouts) then please call or text me on 07770 840156 or email me,  parkes.steve@hotmail.co.uk

Wharfedale Naturalists

We hope you enjoy this website, you can also see us on facebook.  Please review us on Google – it helps us get funding!

Steve Parkes, Wharfedale Naturalists Society.

Recent Updates

  • April Highlights (Saturday, May 9, 2020) - End of April/early May see’s the ransoms (wild garlic) at its peak. This photo was taken in 2007, I don’t think this part of the reserve has changed so much in 13yrs?  
  • January Workgroup – meadow restoration and nature trail prep (Sunday, January 12, 2020) - A great days work for Jan workgroup restoring old meadow area and creating space for the new nature trail. The dense stand of hawthorn produced very few berries and shaded everything else out.. looking forward to seeing the dormant flower seed spring to life.  A big welcome to Sue who joined us for the first … Continue reading January Workgroup – meadow restoration and nature trail prep
  • Otter Family Aug 19 (Wednesday, December 4, 2019) - A big thank you to Dave Varney for sharing these photos with us.  We have what appears to be a family group, a mother and 2 youngsters though it’s difficult to see any size difference between them?  There is however a sad ending, these photos were taken on Aug 20th 2019, a few weeks later … Continue reading Otter Family Aug 19
  • Open Country Workgroup 15 Nov (Tuesday, November 19, 2019) - Thanks to Chris and the Harrogate Open Country team for planting 100 trees as part of the restoration of the roadside hedgerow and installing a new bench to improve accessibility for those that are less able. A massive thank you to Bradford Council Trees & Woodland team for giving us the bench!  
  • November Workgroup – Wildflower planting in the Wet (Sunday, November 10, 2019) - A big thank you to Brian, Frank, Ian, Isobel, Jonny, Katie, Lucy, Mick, Peter, Rachel and Tom for completing the fenced enclosures and planting out over 150 plants in the expanded mini meadow, sunny bank and riverside path despite the cold and mud, at least it didn’t rain! Additional thanks to Diane and Katie for … Continue reading November Workgroup – Wildflower planting in the Wet



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