Know before you go
Parking informationPlease park on the hard standing opposite the entrance to Brown's Hill Quarry. Space is limited so please park considerately and do not park (or partially park) on the surrounding grassland as this is privately owned grazing land.
Grazing animalsLivestock may be present
The reserves of Brown’s Hill Quarry, Holwell Mineral Line and North Quarry lie about 5 km north of Melton Mowbray. From the town centre, take the Scalford Road. After 3 km, turn left and follow the road right. Cross a cattle grid and enter a section of unfenced road. After 0.5 km you reach a wide area with a fork in the road. The reserves are accessible to the left, the right, and via tracks slightly further on under the road bridge.
Please note that there are steps and steep parts of the reserve.
When to visit
Opening timesAlways open
Best time to visitSummer
About the reserve
This trio of reserves together form a hidden gem in the Leicestershire countryside, just a few miles from Melton Mowbray and on the edge of the Vale of Belvoir. With a mosaic of habitats and steeped in geology and history, you can easily spend a few hours exploring the varied habitats and spotting the wildlife that lives there. There are steps and some slopes so come with good footwear.
Originally a quarry, the reserves are built on the mines and the infrastructure that supported them. Dramatic bare rock faces, slopes and spoil heaps have now been colonised by herb-rich grassland. These hollows make ideal sheltered sun-traps, perfect for spotting butterflies in the spring and summer. Common blue, dingy skipper, green hairstreak, Essex skipper and more are all at home here. You’ll also have a chance of admiring common spotted-orchids, and even spotting a bee orchid or two.
In the early spring, areas of the reserves that turn white with snowdrops. You’ll also be in with a chance of spotting some lovely woodland birds, which make the most of the feeders. Bird screens are set up at various points to give you the best views. Tits, finches, woodpeckers, sparrows and more all pay regular visits, and if you’re lucky you might even see a marsh tit. Willow warblers, blackcaps, lesser whitethroat and spotted flycatchers all nest here in late spring. Green woodpeckers make the most of the grasslands, you’ll be able to hear them yaffling around the whole area. Buzzards, kestrels and red kites have all been seen soaring overhead.
The entrance to old mine tunnels can be seen on the reserve. The constant temperatures and fissured rocks of the tunnels provide ideal conditions for bats. Natterer’s, Daubenton’s, brown long-eared and pipistrelle bats have all been recorded.
Quarrying has left shallow, lime-rich soils providing ideal conditions for many species of wildflower including St. Johns-wort, meadow vetchling, viper’s-bugloss and hare’s-foot clover. The rich herb layer includes ragged-robin, marsh thistle and common toadflax. In all 142 plant species have been recorded from the reserve. 95 different species of moth have been recorded as well as several species of dragonfly, including the large red and common blue damsels, and the brown hawker and ruddy darter.
In 2020, we expanded the reserve by 14 hectares, thanks to a generous donation from a member. This new addition to the reserve comprised of intensively farmed grassland, with intact hedgerows and woody scrub - or to us, a blank canvas with lots of potential! We are now working to create a mosaic of habitats similar to the existing reserve that will benefit an abundance of wildlife. This includes woodland and grassy areas, as well as extending hedgerows to create wildlife corridors that will improve connectivity for a number of species. We are excited to watch how the area develops for wildlife.
All in all, the diversity of these reserves is truly outstanding, and worth a visit at any time of year.