Cherry Hinton Chalk Pits
Know before you go
Parking informationPark in layby opposite the Public House on Fulbourn Road.
Do not climb the cliffs. Possible falling rocks; keep away from the base of cliffs
Steep slopes and steps. East Pit has a level and surfaced path around part of the site.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitSpring - Summer
About the reserve
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 here 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 East Pit Archaeology report(pdf) below on the excavation or read it here.
This nature reserve is part of the Cambridgeshire Chalk Living Landscape