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.

Our  workgroups will recommence soon

To reduce the risk of transmission of the virus we have had to cover up the rubbing plaques that form part of our new nature trail.

Please Keep Dogs under control and on a short lead at all times in consideration for the wildlife, breeding birds in particular and other visitors who may not appreciate your pet approaching them.

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.

Once government coronavirus advice sallow it we will be able to recommence group visits( 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 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, Wharfedale Naturalists Society.

Recent Updates

  • Small Workgroup 23 June (Monday, July 6, 2020) - We had our first small Workgroup on since covid-19 lockdown with new Safe working practices in place agreed with Bradford council. Good views of kingfishers, blackcaps and a sparrowhawk a few sand martins nesting, brimstone, ringlet, meadow brown, small tortoiseshell butterflies,. Froglets on riverside path and toads under metal sheet.. Mini meadow looking great. Orchid … Continue reading Small Workgroup 23 June
  • Workgroup 30 June (Monday, July 6, 2020) - We had another small Workgroup  on 30 June, our focus was to make a 40m stretch of steep and crumbling river cliff safer for our younger visitors. We were able to make a thick “dead hedge” along the bank using the hawthorn we had cut in the winter. Plants will grow through it over time … Continue reading Workgroup 30 June
  • Careless Dog Walker .. 2 Dead Cygnets (Sunday, June 21, 2020) - Speaking on behalf of all the volunteers who manage the reserve… We are distraught about the loss of the last 2 swan cygnets last Wed. We have clear signs up asking owners to keep dogs under control/on a short lead for the protection of breeding birds. We have not heard from the dog’s owner as … Continue reading Careless Dog Walker .. 2 Dead Cygnets
  • May Highlights (Sunday, June 7, 2020) - It’s been great to be able to get back down to BRGP and see so many others appreciating their local wildlife. A few wildlife highlights to share, please let us know what you’ve spotted. Thanks  Steve Parkes Otter We have had a few sightings of otter and otter spraint. With the water levels so low … Continue reading May Highlights
  • 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?  



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