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The reserve is a chalk quarry last worked in the 1940s. A flat floor and step cliff-face with hollows scooped out, it provides a variation in habitat conditions. The quarry is cut into the Middle Chalk (Turonian) of the Cretaceous Period (about 100 million years ago). Much of the floor of the quarry contains an interesting range of plants that can grow in dry, skeletal soils. A periodical scraping away areas of top soil conserves the presence of these interesting chalk colonisor species
Between the many small areas of bare ground grow bird’s-foot trefoil, common rest-harrow and grasses such as quaking grass and crested dog’s-tail. Pyramidal and spotted-orchids occur and, in some years, there is an abundant display of bee orchids, whose flowers mimic bees to attract pollinators. Several species of butterfly abound, the ones most likely to be encountered being ringlet, common blue, meadow brown and small heath.
The face of the cliff is unstable, but is beginning to develop a vegetative cover in places. Winter-cress grows in this habitat. The hollows in the cliff have a developing flora of shrubs and trees including ash, apple and gooseberry. The gradual development of soil structure leads to the growth of tussocky grasses such as cock’s-foot and false oat-grass. This can only be prevented by grazing either by rabbits or livestock.
A track leads to the southern end of the reserve and a path, marked by stones, returns along the face of the quarry. Much of interest can be seen from the path; straying from it could be dangerous as buildings and kilns are unsafe.
The Wolds Way passes close to the reserve and Wharram Percy, the mediaeval village, is also close by. Wharram Quarry is owned by Birdsall Estate Company Limited and is leased as a nature reserve by an agreement dated 7 July 1966.
Open all the time
TA 252708 54.11818 -0.08507
The reserve is close to the village of Wharram-le-street which is on the B1248 Malton to Beverley road, seven miles east of Malton.
At the crossroads in Wharram-le-street follow signposts south-west towards Birdsall. The reserve is on the left after about half-a-mile with a YWT sign at the only entrance. There is limited parking here.
A track leads to the southern end of the reserve and a path maked by stones, returns along the face of the quarry. Much of interest can be seen from the quarry. Much of interest can be seen from the path; straying from it could be dangerous as buildings and kilns are unsafe.