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Winskill Stones Nature Reserve

Location: near Settle, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire
OS: SD 836662
What Three Words location: ///outwards.swims.bigger

Habitat: Limestone pavement and limestone pasture

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The Reserve

A unique landscape with spectacular views northwards to the Yorkshire “Three Peaks” of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent.

Plantlife bought Winskill Stones with the help of a public appeal to stop the extraction of rock from its limestone pavement and to allow its varied flora to thrive. The deep fissures in the limestone pavement provide a moist, shady hideaway for a range of woodland plants including ramsons, Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis and Green Spleenwort Asplenium viride. In the pasture you will find Mountain Pansy, cowslips and early-purple orchids.


Other species prefer the low cliffs or humpbacks of limestone around the reserve, and the boldest displays of colour can be found on the ledges out of reach of grazing animals. You may see Kidney Vetch, Horseshoe Vetch, Common Rock-rose and 2 saxifrages, with Meadow Saxifrage usually found in grassland whilst Mossy Saxifrage prefers more exposed conditions.

Where the soil is thinner, or on crumbling limestone, you can find cushions of Spring Sandwort, whose flowers have five white petals that are just a little longer than the green sepals between them. Here too are mats of Limestone Bedstraw, with tiny white flowers and narrow leaves in whorls of six to eight up its stems. Herbs such as this and Wild Thyme are beginning to colonise even the desolate patches of rubble waste and pavement remains in two of the reserve’s fields. Rarities that are harder to spot include Green Spleenwort, Common Twayblade and Wall Lettuce.

Species to look out for

  • Spring Sandwort Minuartia verna May-August
  • Mountain Pansy Viola lutea May-July
  • Limestone Bedstraw Galium sterneri June-July


Winskill Stones Map


Please take care on your visit. Be aware of the terrain and of any roads that pass through the reserve. Note that livestock periodically graze many of our reserves as part of their management.

Location: near Settle, Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire

Grid Reference: SD 836 662

Explore Winskill Stones

Winskill Stones is a 74-acre reserve of limestone pavement and limestone pasture. Discover more about it with this resource.

Wild Space Adventures: Winskill Stones

Come with us to discover this wild space together and see what we can find.