Welcome to

Ben Rhydding

Nature Reserve



VISITOR PARKING If the lay by is full, Moss & Moor garden centre welcomes you to use their car park. If you do so, please use their lower car park leaving the spaces nearest the center for their customers.

DOGS There is a Dog Control Order on the reserve, failure to comply can result in a fine. Dogs must be kept under control and on a short lead at all times on all areas of the reserve,  you must be in possesion of a dog waste bag , clear up their waste and remove it from the site. Please don’t let you dog enter the river, beck or ponds.

SAFETY Some sections of the paths can be quiet muddy and there are exposed tree roots. Please don’t go down the banks to the river or the lagoon or the beck and supervise children at all times.

ABOUT THE RESERVE 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 which are becoming increasingly common. 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.

MANAGEMENT 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,  pond creation,  grass cutting, installation of benches, wildlife surveys and a range of other activities to try and improve the site and maximise biodiversity. Every September Bradford Council survey the dead trees to ensure they are safe. The site was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2013

WORKGROUPS  take place the 2nd Saturday of the month 9.30-12.30, we also run some sessions on Thursday mornings Please contact me for further details we always have space for more volunteers.

GROUP VISITS We regularly host visits from groups. Please contact me if you would like to arrange a visit which can be tailored in terms of time and content depending on the interests of the participants.  Call or text me on 07770 840156 or email me,  parkes.steve@hotmail.co.uk

FISHING If you are interested in fishing the lagoon then please contact Ilkley Anglers who own the fishing rights. Only their members are allowed to fish.

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, Reserve Manager and Trustee Wharfedale Naturalists Society.

Recent Updates

  • American Signal Crayfish (Saturday, May 7, 2022) -   We discovered this American signal crayfish whilst working on restoring the beck. These were introduced into the wharfe over 20yrs ago and have spread everywhere. Unfortunately they brought a virus with them that our native crayfish are very vulnerable to and are now locally extinct.  I believe this is a large male. It is … Continue reading American Signal Crayfish
  • New Signs (Saturday, May 7, 2022) -
  • New Riverside Bench March 2022 (Sunday, March 13, 2022) - We now have our 4th riverside  bench thanks, the donation by a local family and the hardwork of our volunteers
  • New Dog Control Order (Friday, June 11, 2021) - Finally got the Dog Control Order signs up, thanks to Bradford Council extending the orders to encompass ponds. Thanks also to their Enforcement team and sign shop for getting it sorted. Wildlife around ponds will have a bit more protection across the district.
  • Kingfishers (Friday, June 11, 2021) - Thanks to Geraint Evans for more wonderful pics. The kingfisher with the fish in its beak is female, the one drying its wings is a male. Unfortunately their nest was washed out a few days after these shots, but hopefully they will have found another spot  



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