Welcome to the Ben Rhydding Nature Reserve Website


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!

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,  we were recently declared  a Local Nature Reserve.  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.  Since then we have installed a notice-board at the reserve  and Tim Howson has created this great website for us

Wharfedale Naturalists

We hope you enjoy this website and feel free to contribute to it.

Steve Parkes, Wharfedale Naturalists Society.

Recent Updates

  • New Spring Arrivals 20 April (Thursday, April 20, 2017) - Sand martins now number over 50, the best we have had for many years.  The blackcaps and chiff chaffs have now been joined by willow warblers. With the river being so low the gravels and muddy banks have attracted a pair of redshank and a pair of common sandpiper. A female sparrowhawk was around I … Continue reading New Spring Arrivals 20 April
  • 8 April – Sand Martins & Butterflies (Monday, April 10, 2017) - 35 plus sand martins pairing up and exploring nest holes were the highlight of our saturday work group. Other birds included singing blackcap and chiffchaff and pair of kingfishers. A  newly emerged orange tip was joined by over wintering  brimstone, comma, peacock and small copper butterflies
  • Commas (Thursday, October 6, 2016) - The last week or so has seen the arrival of quite a few Comma butterflies at the reserve.  These are the autumn generation and are looking very fresh, (see featured image, taken October 1st 2016 ) leading you to believe they have not been around long. The life cycle of these butterflies is quite interesting: they … Continue reading Commas
  • Common Blues (Monday, June 20, 2016) - It has been a disappointing year for butterflies so far, but there have been a few encouraging signs. Despite their low numbers, a male and female Large skipper were seen on the South Lawn on 18th June and a Common blue (see featured image) was found by Phil Reed on 19th June. There used to be … Continue reading Common Blues
  • Nature Reserve Walk (Tuesday, June 14, 2016) - Thank you to all those that came to the walk tonight.  The weather was kind to us and there was even a bit of sun at one stage.  We hope everyone enjoyed the orchids.  It was good to have some extra eyes to spot things we often miss.  One example was a Snout moth (see … Continue reading Nature Reserve Walk


If you wish to contribute to this site, and visit the Ben Rhydding reserve, you can ‘Register’ to become a ‘Subscriber’. This enables you to create new posts in the ‘News’ section, upload images and create new photo galleries. Any additional content would be gratefully received because we are aiming to make this site as dynamic as possible. Also, if you have any suggestions on how we could improve it or if you need any assistance on registering or uploading your own content please contact us using the contact form below. All content is approved by the site editor before it is published and becomes live.

To register please click on the ‘Register’ menu item in the top right of the page.  You will be prompted to choose a user name and password and should then be able to login to create new content.

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