Humber Bridge Country Park

Ferriby Road, Hessle, HU13 0HB
01482 395207

Welcome to Humber Bridge Country Park

This Local Nature Reserve is a special place both for people and for wildlife.

The Humber Bridge Country Park Local Nature Reserve is a haven for people and wildlife set amongst woods, meadows, ponds and cliffs. The tree covered chalk terraces of the old chalk quarry offer dramatic views over the River Humber and towering Humber Bridge.

The 21-hectare reserve has a valuable mosaic of habitats that supports a wide and varied range of wildlife. Over 20 species of butterfly are recorded on the reserve each year and an important population of great crested newts have made the ponds their home. The bird feeding station is a fantastic place to watch birds through the unique living willow screens and viewing tunnel, specially created by the Friends Group of the reserve.

The reserve is located in the East Riding of Yorkshire close to the urban area of Hull, and is a favourite place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and enjoy a walk amongst the trees. The Phoenix Sculpture Trail winds its way through the woods and features 10 unique sculptural seats inspired by the special heritage of the reserve. The sculptural seats provide the ideal spot for you to sit and contemplate your surroundings. The reserve also offers three nature trails through the woods, the meadows and around the cliffs. Each trail is distinctively waymarked with hand carved owls, rabbits and frogs to ensure you never get lost!


The Humber Bridge Country Park was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2002 in recognition of its wildlife value and its importance to the local community. Local Nature Reserves aim to protect places of special interest and provide opportunities for research, education or informal enjoyment.

The reserve has always been a favourite haunt for children and adults and is locally known as Little Switzerland. After the building of the Humber Bridge, the Country Park opened in 1986 so that more people could enjoy visiting this exciting place.

The older history of the reserve can be detected by looking around you! As long ago as the 13th century the area was quarried for chalk, and the old quarry cliff terraces now form the edges of the reserve. Today the reserve is recognised as a Regionally Important Geological Site. The cracks and crevices of the cliffs also offer a multitude of undisturbed microhabitats for wildlife. On Hessle Foreshore the old Black Mill survives as a monument to the reserve's quarrying past. This Scheduled Ancient Monument was unique to the area in having five sails that powered the grinding stones to transform chalk boulders into whiting. Humber boats carried the high-grade material worldwide.

'We are unearthing more about the unique history of the site in our Quarry to Country Park project. You will be able to experience the hidden heritage of the reserve by exploring a newly created Chalk Walk heritage trail and see inside the tower of the mill.

Visit Quarry to Country Park
Secondary Description

Discover The Reserve

The reserve is a fantastic place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and is a real haven for wildlife as well as people. It is a special place where plants and animals can make their home in the ponds, meadows, woods and cliffs. One of the best ways to enjoy the wildlife is to follow one of the nature trails.

Explore the Meadow Trail

On the meadow trail you can see many of the butterflies found on the reserve, such as the gatekeeper, meadow brown or comma. Even on a cloudy day you may see a ringlet as it flies over the long grass. The reserve has 22 species of butterflies recorded across the different habitats, and one of the best places to see them is on the distinctive purple buddliea bushes scattered all over the reserve. On sunny days in August you can see literally hundreds of peacock, red admiral, small tortoiseshell and painted lady butterflies gorging themselves on nectar from the flowers.

The rarest butterfly on the reserve is the curiously named white letter hairstreak, so named because of a white L-shaped letter on its underwing! To see this elusive butterfly you'll need to look high up in the elm trees during July; it is here where they lay their eggs as the caterpillars just love to munch the leaves.

Explore the Pond Trail

The ponds are important places for amphibians, and particularly the smaller ponds that completely dry up in the summer. Amphibian offspring in these ponds stand a better chance of survival since there are no predatory fish. Great crested newts are important on the reserve since their numbers in the UK have drastically declined due to habitat loss. British and European laws protect newts from being killed or injured, and you also must not capture, handle or possess these newts. When enjoying your visit to the ponds, please make sure your activities do not disturb the newts or other wildlife here.

Explore the Cliff Trail

The trail explores the tree covered chalk cliff terraces of the reserve, once said to resemble miniature snow covered Alps, and which gives the area its local name of Little Switzerland. The trail passes through woods of ash trees that love to grow on these chalky soils. They can also survive on the cliff walls and ledges by clinging on with their creeping roots over the chalk rock. There really are some staggering trees hanging onto the rocks above you!

Explore the Tree Trail

The tree trail is a great way to explore the woods. The leaf-shaped way markers are located across the reserve and also feature a coded challenge for you to solve. Designed by the friends group, trail leaflets are available to download at the bottom of page or the Friends of the Humber Bridge Country Park website.


Access to the reserve can be made on three paths leading from entrances at Hessle Foreshore, Little Switzerland and the Bridge Car Park. Parking is available in the Foreshore and Humber Bridge car parks. Due to the old quarrying landscape only the Hessle Foreshore entrance is accessible on a flat, level step-free path, through a wide kissing gate suitable for the majority wheelchairs and modern scooters. All the trails start from this location and alternative paths are provided around the steps. The meadow Trail is 1km, cliff trail 3km and pond trail 2.5km (a short extra path leads to the wildlife pond, from here return to the trail back the same way)

A hard, firm and smooth path surface is provided throughout the reserve, which is always wide enough to allow people to walk side by side. There are rest areas, such as seats or perches provided every 100 metres along the paths, and the picnic areas are designed to accommodate visitors using wheelchairs. The maximum steepness of the paths is 1:12, apart one path on the cliff trail in the southwest corner of the reserve where there is a 1:5 slope for 10m.

Code of Conduct

You are welcome to visit this site on foot. Please note that we do not allow camping, horseriding or motorbikes. Use the steel barbeque stands and never place hot fires on the grass. You can bring your dog but you should pick up after it and it should be kept under close control. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs so please be aware of this when exercising your animal.

Cyclists can also use the site but it is important that you ride sensibly for the ground conditions and adjust your speed when close to walkers and dogs.

Nature Reserves are special places for wildlife, please help keep them beautiful by picking up litter and avoid disturbing wildflowers.

Orienteering in the park

Orienteering is a fun leisure activity at the Humber Bridge Country Park and a great way to explore the woods and meadows. In orienteering your goal is to find your way round a set of control points using a specially designed orienteering map. There are 6 courses of different lengths and difficulty, and all are suitable for adults and children. Full instructions are in the orienteering leaflet avalable to download at the bottom of the page.


The reserve has several large car parks. Step-free access is available by parking in the foreshore car park. The upper car parks nearer the Humber Bridge provides access the Country Park via flights of steps.


Interpretation boards will provide you with further information to help you enjoy your visit. Toilets are available on the foreshore near the black mill, and in the upper car park. The Country Park Inn pub is next to the black mill. Picnic benches and seats are located every 100m along the surfaced paths, and picnic tables can accommodate wheelchairs.

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Humber Bridge Country Park
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