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

  • Gravel pits ducks (Tuesday, March 22, 2016) - The Gravel Pits is a good place to spot some of the less common ducks.  The featured image shows a male Goosander preening itself ,next to an Oyster catcher, the far side of the river.  Some of the lagoons attract other species such as this pair of Tufted ducks, seen this afternoon.  They are slightly … Continue reading Gravel pits ducks
  • Work Group Dates 2016 (Saturday, February 20, 2016) - Please contact Steve Parkes on 07770 840156 or parkes.steve@hotmail.co.uk  if you would like to attend We generally meet 2nd Saturday of the month from 9.30-12.30 March 12th 2016 April 9th 2016 May 14th 2016 June 11th 2016 July 9th 2016 August 13th 2016 September 10th 2016 October 8th 2016 November 12th 2016 December 10th 2016
  • Broad-leaved Helleborine (Monday, August 17, 2015) - Whilst not technically on the Nature Reserve, an estimated 40+ Broad-leaved Helleborine orchids have sprung up at the Gravel Pits.  The featured image shows just how well they blend in with the greenery.  See below for a close-up.
  • How long do butterflies typically live? (Saturday, July 25, 2015) - This is an interesting question. On recent visits to the reserve, the same Common Blue butterfly has been sighted on numerous occasions, usually in the same spot. We are pretty sure it is the same butterfly as it has a nick in it’s wings at a specific place and it seems to have been there … Continue reading How long do butterflies typically live?
  • 12th July 2015 sightings (Saturday, July 18, 2015) - After our work party, on the 11th July, we were wondering whether the White Letter Hairtreaks had emerged yet, but the following day confirmed they are back in good numbers. They still seem to like to sit on the Creeping Thistles, down near the drainage ditch (near the bench), but have also been sighted near the … Continue reading 12th July 2015 sightings


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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