Belshaw's Quarry Nature Reserve

Nature reserves are chosen from among the very best examples of our wildlife, habitats and geology. They contain a wide range of species, communities and geology and their designation is a public recognition by Government of their importance.


Grid Reference: J 229671


Quarrying operations finished at Belshaw's Quarry about 1950. Within the quarry, it is now possible to see proof of times when the area was once a scorched desert, a sea bed, engulfed by molten lava and entombed in ice.

Some 225 million years ago, the base of Belshaw's Quarry was a desert. Millions of years later, the relative levels of the land and sea had changed and this area was at the ocean bed. Tiny animals lived in the sea and when they died their hard shells settled on the bottom to form a deep deposit of chalk. Later, about 66 million years ago, a great volcanic flow of molten lava engulfed the chalk and formed a basalt layer above. Ice sheets then ground the surface of the basalt to form a reddish-brown boulder clay. The basalt was quarried to provide stone for road building.

The abandoned quarry has developed into a haven for native wildlife. Dragonflies dart over the tall bulrushes of the pond while common spotted orchids are littered over drier parts of the quarry floor. A colony of common blue butterflies adds to the purple-blue hue and wild strawberries provide flashes of red to catch the eye of observant visitors.


Car parking in lay-by, information point.

Site Manager - Tel: 028 3885 3950 

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