Kirsty's day with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Kirsty, Marketing Manager
Wharram Quarry, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust manages over ninety sites across Yorkshire and the Humber, working to maintain and protect the natural landscapes and ecosystems for wildlife and flora and fauna to thrive. As our nominated charity of the year I was delighted to spend the day with the Trust and their group of volunteers maintaining a site close to my home in the Yorkshire Wolds, Wharram Quarry.
The quarry was last worked in the 1940s (when it was mined for chalk), and since then has transformed into a stunning wildflower meadow providing a home for birds, butterflies and a variety of other wildlife. The site is known as being one of few sites where the rare Bee Orchid grows (along with common spotted and pyramidal orchids), as welll as thistle broomrape which parasitizes woolly thistle. As part of their conservation efforts, the Trust has also introduced the endangered red hemp-nettle to the site and buttercup along the quarry face. June-July is the best time to visit when the flowers are in bloom. Visit then and you're likely to see purple wild thyme, pink restharrow, mouse-ear hawkweed, bell flower and blue common milkwort among others.
My volunteering saw me join a group of around 15 volunteers (who often work together on various Trust sites across Yorkshire) to carry out maintaince to the site in preparation for the arrival of Hebridean sheep to graze over the winter. Our tasks were to repair fencing, clear coarse grasses and remove hawthorn scrub. It was hard work (as my shredded hands can testify!) but very rewarding. Listening to the distant coo of pheasants and watching the buzzards swoop overhead I saw the value in protecting the landscape that these creatures call home and it was great to meet a group so committed to conserving the landscape for Yorkshire's wildlife.
This summer I'll be sure to return to the site to to see the orchids in bloom and the butterflies as they visit, perhaps making my way along the Wold's Way and onto the nearby medieval village of Wharram Percy. I also hope to visit the other Wildlife Trust sites in and around the Wolds, there's so much beautiful countryside to discover here that's still largely unknown to most tourists to Yorkshire (it really is one of Yorkshire's hidden gems!).