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Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits

Former chalk quarries that now provide a variety of habitats for wildlife.

There is a work party at this site. If you are interested in getting involved please look at the work parties page for more information.

These two chalk quarries once provided hard chalk to build Cambridge University colleges and lime for cement. Today they support a variety of habitats that harbour some rare plants and insects. Quarrying finished in Lime Kiln Close approximately 200 years ago. Nature has reclaimed the site and woodland has developed; large ash trees now tower over field maples below. The cherry trees in Lime Kiln Close are descendants of trees that gave Cherry Hinton its name.

East Pit is the largest of the quarries and was worked up until the early 1980s. Standing within the pit, you are surrounded by steep cliffs of chalk that glow in the late afternoon sun. Reprofiling the base of the pit in 2009 broke up much of the solid chalk surface, which enabled wildflowers and grasses to spread and colonise the exposed chalk.

Take a look at our photography record below shows how the pit has changed over the years. Wildflowers such as milkwort, harebell and kidney vetch are thriving. The rare moon carrot only grows here and at two other locations in the country (Beachy Head, East Sussex and Knocking Hoe, Bedfordshire). Annual monitoring in East Pit shows that the number of moon carrot plants is increasing. The scrub habitat in these pits provides nesting and feeding sites for more than 60 species of bird.

In 2009 an archaeological excavation was carried out at East Pit. You can download the Final War Ditches Report (pdf) on the excavation or read it here.

Watch here as Wildlife Trust volunteer Jade Lauren Cawthray takes a winter walk through the chalk pits.

This nature reserve is part of the Cambridgeshire Chalk Living Landscape


The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trust's definitive land boundary.

Nearby nature reserves

1 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Fulbourn Fen
3 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Skaters' Meadow
3 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Nature reserve map

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.

Reserve information

2.5 miles from Cambridge centre
Map reference
Great for...
geological interest
historical interest
lichens and mosses
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Opening Times
Open at all times
11.00 hectares
Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Living Landscape schemes
Cambridgeshire Chalk

Walking information
East Pit - a surfaced path leads around the base of the pit. There are steps to reach the higher levels and bare chalk paths that can be slippery. Lime Kiln Close - rough grassland paths with some steps.
There is no car park at the reserve. Park in layby opposite the Public House on Fulbourn Road. Bike racks are situated at the entrance to East Pit.
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Tel: 01954 713500