Beyond our boundaries at Birkhams Quarry

Sophie Badrick, Colourful Coast Project Officer Sophie Badrick Colourful Coast Project Officer
Wildflowers at Birkhams Quarry, Whitehaven Coast, Cumbria

This summer we’ve undertaken some exciting new work beyond our boundaries. Led by the Colourful Coast partnership we’ve been working just outside Whitehaven at Birkhams sandstone quarry to restore wildflower grassland. As part of their planning permission the quarry operator is required to restore areas once they have finished being worked for stone.

At the end of 2016 topsoil from elsewhere on site was spread over the first area of restoration.  The decision was made not to use plug plants or seed the restoration area but to let it vegetate naturally using the seeds already in the topsoil. 

This summer we’ve worked at the site with local volunteers doing a variety of jobs.  So far we have spent two afternoons recording the species we find on site and beginning to remove plants such as bracken, nettle, dock and thistle.  If left unchecked these could become dominant and shade out the wildflowers and grasses we want to encourage. 

Busy bees of the volunteer variety!
National Trust volunteers at Birkhams Quarry, Whitehaven Coast
Busy bees of the volunteer variety!

During our visits we’ve recorded over 50 species growing in the area, including birds foot trefoil, mouse-ear, common vetch, ragged robin, foxglove and cuckoo flower. 

More flowers means more bees
A bee on a foxglove, Whitehaven Coast, Cumbria
More flowers means more bees

The restoration area is developing nicely and the variety of species that have already established is encouraging.  We’re looking forward to continuing this work with the Colourful Coast partnership over the next few years to keep recording what species we see.