Quarrying has left shallow, nutrient poor, lime-rich soils providing ideal conditions for many species of wildflower including both bee orchids and common spotted-orchids. Perforate St. Johns-wort, meadow vetchling, viper’s-bugloss, and the diminutive hare’s-foot clover all add to the rich diversity. The reserve supports important populations of dingy skipper and green hairstreak butterflies, as well as a large colony of common blue, which feed on common bird’s-foot trefoil.
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.
Total species seen at this site: 399
The area south east of Holwell village was originally mined for building stone. There is evidence to suggest that Brown’s Hill Quarry was in existence by 1815. Ironstone was first quarried from the area by the Stanton Ironworks company from 1879 until 1881. Mining resumed in 1918 and continued until 1933 when the company began to work the mine with galleries based on the pillar-and-stall method. Open cast working was reinstated at the quarry between 1953 and 1957 when exploitation ceased.
Habitats include bare rock faces, slopes and spoil heaps colonised by herb-rich grassland.
There is also an area of mixed woodland, planted in the 1930s. Most of the management work on the reserve is aimed at maintaining the species rich open grassland by preventing scrub encroachment. Dominant grasses, such as torgrass, are also controlled to prevent them from forcing out the delicate herbs.
Holwell Mineral Line was built by the Midland Railway Company and was opened in 1876. It runs from the main line near Asfordby to a terminus at Holwell Wharf and was used to transport ironstone to the Holwell Works. The line was closed in the 1960s, when mining finally ceased in the area. Habitats include rough grassland, scrub, young woodland, marsh, streams and ditches. Management work includes preventing scrub from shading out the species rich grassland.
|Common Name||Latin Name||Date Recorded||Recorded By|
|Broad-leaved Willowherb||Epilobium montanum||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Large Skipper||Ochlodes sylvanus||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Red Bartsia||Odontites vernus||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Shaded Broad-bar||Scotopteryx chenopodiata||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Eriothrix rufomaculata||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Straw Grass-veneer||Agriphila straminella||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Great Willowherb||Epilobium hirsutum||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Musk-mallow||Malva moschata||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Six-Spot Burnet||Zygaena filipendulae||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Small Skipper||Thymelicus sylvestris||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Viper's Bugloss||Echium vulgare||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Wild Thyme||Thymus polytrichus||16/07/2017||Steve Mathers|
|Hummingbird Hawk-moth||Macroglossum stellatarum||30/06/2017||MFBraker|
|Badger||Meles meles||16/06/2017||Peter Smith|
|Red Fox||Vulpes vulpes||16/06/2017||Peter Smith|
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 take the first right. Cross a cattle grid and enter a section of unfenced road. After 0.5 km, the road forks and the reserve entrance is on the left near the fork. Park on the open area opposite the entrance to Brown’s Hill Quarry.
For Holwell Mineral Line walk down the road from the parking area towards Holwell village. The entrance to the reserve is to the right of the old railway bridge. Walk down the track from the entrance on to the old railway cutting and the reserve runs in both directions as indicated on the map.
For North Quarry, walk across the cattle grid on the minor road to the north of the parking area (please leave the gate as you find it), and the reserve entrance is immediately on the right.