Ellerburn Bank Nature Reserve

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A warm sunny day brings this limestone grassland to life, with colourful butterflies such as small copper and day-flying moths including six-spot burnet fluttering between vibrantly coloured meadow flowers. Skylark, with their distinctive flight and lilting song, breed in the adjacent fields.

This excellent example of limestone grassland has never been farmed or worked in any way.

Its thin, free draining soils support species such as rock-rose, cowslip and quaking grass. A few rarities can also be found here including some orchid species.

The meadows are generally at their most picturesque in June and July, an impressive sight for such a small nature reserve. Rabbits, foxes, badgers and roe deer are frequent visitors that leave telltale signs, whilst stoats can be seen whisking through the stems during the day. Adders are seen occasionally around the drystone wall. Butterflies breeding here include small copper and small skipper. The site also attracts birds, including skylark which breed on the adjacent arable land and flocks of finches in winter.

The field contains small amounts of hawthorn and gorse scrub and is bounded by woodland on two sides. Situated on the shoulder of Pexton Moor the nature reserve slopes down into the valley towards Dalby Beck. Along the western edge of the site is an ancient earthwork that is thought to be a late Bronze Age double bank and ditch. This is a scheduled ancient monument on which management is limited.

Winter grazing using Hebridean sheep keeps young scrub in check and the sward healthy, allowing it to flower and seed throughout the summer. The patches of scrub that do not get grazed sufficiently by the sheep are mechanically managed to prevent spread into the pasture. The northern boundary is drystone wall and is maintained by Trust staff and contractors. Hedges are kept in good condition by ‘gapping up’ with mixed tree saplings that are protected by guards.

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Property Facilities

  • Dogs not accepted (except guidedogs)

Map & Directions

Road Directions

At the south west corner of Dalby Forest. Take the Whitby road for 1.5 miles and turn right into Dalby Forest Drive. Take on of two forest tracks into the nature reserve by foot.

2 parking areas.

Ellerburn Bank Nature Reserve

Type:Nature Reserve

Dalby Forest Drive, Dalby Forest, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 7LU
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Tel01904 659570


  • Other AwardsSelf-assessed Accessibility Information Self-assessed Accessibility Information 2020
  • Membership SchemeDiscover Yorkshire Coast – Silver Member Discover Yorkshire Coast – Silver Member 2021

Opening Times

Ellerburn Bank Nature Reserve (1 Jan 2023 - 31 Dec 2023)

* Open at all times
Best time to visit - March to September

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