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Quarry Banks

A peaceful reserve, in spring the woodland is carpeted with flowers and the air is full of bird song. The meadow flowers attract butterflies in the summer.


  • Spring carpets of bluebell and wood anenome and bird song.
  • In throughout the summer the meadow is in flower with yellow rattle, great burnet annd other plants.

Railway history

Quarry Banks is very much a product of the railway age. When the Settle-Carlisle line was built in the 1860s the area of land between it and the Pow Maughan Beck became isolated from the surrounding farmland making it uneconomic to manage. The quarry on the nature reserve was itself developed to provide sandstone for railway bridges and buildings. The oak woodland, at the northern end of the nature reserve, is clearly far older than the railway and may even be a remnant of ancient woodland.

Plants of the reserve

In April and May the woodland is carpeted with bluebell, wood anemone, wood sorrel and violet.  In the small meadow, beyond the quarry, you will find a typical area of unimproved grassland.  Here throughout the summer you will find knapweed, great burnet, betony, yellow rattle and devil's-bit scabious. Yellow iris, ragged robin and marsh marigolds grow around the beck.

The quarry is partially flooded, although the pond which has developed in it is shaded by the surrounding woodland and therefore has little floating or emergent vegetation.


On the wing

The meadow area attracts butterflies in the summer including ringlet and large skipper.

Over 60 species of bird have been recorded on the nature reserve including spotted flycatcher, great spotted woodpecker, tawny owl and moorhen, which have all bred.

Keeping it special

Both woodland and quarry are managed largely by limited intervention. The meadow is grazed in autumn and winter each year to maintain the diversity of plant species.

The site was purchased from British Rail in 1987 in memory of Allan Wilson, a former member of the Trust's Education Committee and education adviser to the local education authority.

Getting here

By car: From the M6 junction 42 take the turning for Wetheral. In Cumwhinton village take the minor raod signed for Cotehill and Armathwaite.  There is very limited parking on the righthand verge next to the lectricity sub station. The public footpath to the reserve starts between two rows of houses on the opposite side of the road.

By bicycle: The reserve is 5km from National Route 72 (Hadrian's Cycleway)

By public transport: Buses run from Carlisle to Cumwhinton.

Nearby nature reserves

Wreay Woods
2 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Gosling Sike
5 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Orton Moss
7 miles - Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Near Carlisle
Map reference
NY 457 526
Great for...
spring flowers
Best time to visit
Apr - Jul
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
1.80 hectares
Local Wildlife Site (LWS)
Paths on reserve have some steep slopes and steps.
Walking information
The reserve is accessed via a public footpath from Cumwhinton Village signed to Wetheral Shield which crosses a field to the railway line (0.7km/0.4 miles from public road). At the railway line turn right for the reserve.
On minor road from Cumwhinton village, signed for Cotehill and Armathwaite there is very limited parking on right hand verge next to electricity substation.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Cattle in autumn and winter.
Reserve manager
Kevin Scott
Tel: 01228 829570