Welcome to

Ben Rhydding

Nature Reserve



Overspill Parking

If you cannot find a space to park in the layby our friends at Moss & Moor have kindly offered for visitors to use their car park. If you do so, please use their lower car park leaving the spaces nearest the garden centre entrance clear for their customers.

CORONAVIRUS 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 weekend workgroups recommence 10 April 2021

Dogs must be kept 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. This will be legally enforced by a Dog Control Order

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

  • 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  
  • GREAT BARRIER. . (Monday, May 10, 2021) - GREAT BARRIER. ..not a reef but an excellent piece of woodcraft from the workgroup members Steve A and Ian T. Designed to prevent falls into the ditch near the far bench. It has willow whips woven into it that willhopefully root and give it further strength
  • NEW RIVERSIDE WILD FLOWER AREA (Monday, May 10, 2021) - NEW RIVERSIDE WILD FLOWER AREA Thanks to all our work group volunteers for their hardwork over in March and April  At the spot in the pic we’ve sown a woodland seed mix donated by Wharfedale Naturalists Society. 30yrs ago the area was great for wildflowers but they were largely lost as a dense stand of … Continue reading NEW RIVERSIDE WILD FLOWER AREA
  • Spring Otters 2021 (Monday, May 10, 2021) - Thanks to Geraint Evans for sharing these delightful pics of what we believe is a mum and her 2 maturing pups opposite the reserve in March this year. There continue to be frequent sightings in April 



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