Holwell Reserves

    Wildlife Highlights

     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.

    Wild places

    Total species seen at this site: 408


    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.

    Latest records

    Common Name Latin Name Date Recorded Recorded By
    Green WoodpeckerPicus viridis29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Common Blue butterflyPolyommatus icarus29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Brown ArgusAricia agestis29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Small CopperLycaena phlaeas29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Dingy SkipperErynnis tages29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    CinnabarTyria jacobaeae29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Hook-streak Grass-veneerCrambus lathoniellus29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Burnet CompanionEuclidia glyphica29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Plain GoldMicropterix calthella29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Red-and-black FroghopperCercopis vulnerata29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Swan-feather DwarfElachista argentella29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Straw ConchCochylimorpha straminea29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Latticed HeathChiasmia clathrata29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Swollen-thighed BeetleOedemera nobilis29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Mecinus pascuorum29/05/2019Steve Mathers
    Further Information
    Getting There

    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.

    Managed By

    Group Common name Latin name Last seen
    Bees, Wasps, AntsGrey Mining BeeAndrena cineraria20/06/2012
    Bees, Wasps, AntsTawny Mining BeeAndrena fulva11/04/2019
    Bees, Wasps, AntsEarly Mining BeeAndrena haemorrhoa12/05/2018
    Bees, Wasps, AntsAndrena scotica11/05/2017
    Bees, Wasps, AntsHoney BeeApis mellifera26/04/2018
    Bees, Wasps, AntsRed-tailed BumblebeeBombus lapidarius13/07/2016
    Bees, Wasps, AntsWhite-tailed Bumble BeeBombus lucorum agg.10/07/2016
    Bees, Wasps, AntsCommon Carder BumblebeeBombus pascuorum12/05/2018
    Bees, Wasps, AntsBuff-tailed BumblebeeBombus terrestris26/04/2018
    Bees, Wasps, AntsVestal Cuckoo BumblebeeBombus vestalis12/05/2018
    Bees, Wasps, AntsBedeguar Gall WaspDiplolepis rosae17/08/2016
    Bees, Wasps, AntsDusona circumspectans02/09/2017
    Bees, Wasps, AntsYellow Meadow AntLasius flavus11/05/2017
    Bees, Wasps, AntsSmall Black AntLasius niger11/05/2017
    Bees, Wasps, AntsFabricius' Nomad BeeNomada fabriciana07/05/2016
    Bees, Wasps, AntsNomada flava07/05/2016
    Bees, Wasps, AntsHornetVespa crabro26/09/2018
    BeetlesAphodius pedellus07/05/2016
    BeetlesAplotarsus incanus11/05/2017
    BeetlesAthous haemorrhoidalis11/05/2017
    BeetlesCantharis decipiens11/05/2017
    BeetlesCantharis nigricans11/05/2017
    BeetlesCantharis pellucida12/05/2018
    BeetlesCantharis rustica04/06/2017
    BeetlesThistle Tortoise BeetleCassida rubiginosa11/05/2017
    BeetlesTortoise BeetleCassida vibex11/05/2017
    BeetlesCassida viridis11/05/2017
    Beetles7 Spot LadybirdCoccinella septempunctata11/05/2017
    BeetlesHarlequin LadybirdHarmonia axyridis04/06/2017
    BeetlesMecinus pascuorum29/05/2019