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Gravel Hole

Type:Nature Reserve

Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, Tees Valley, TS20 1UY
Butterfly in grass at Gravel Hole

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About

Gravel Hole is particularly attractive in spring and early summer when blooms of common spotted orchids and fragrant orchids fill this small site with colour.

This is a disused sand and gravel quarry which has been colonised by a variety of lime-loving plants. As well as orchids, the rich flora includes cowslips, kidney vetch, field scabious and greater knapweed. Sedges and grasses are well represented and there is quaking grass in profusion. 12 species of butterfly have been recorded here, with notable examples being dingy skipper, common blue and small heath. Beetles, bees, moths and other insects add to the site’s interest.

The reserve is bordered by dense hedgerows which with occasional patches of scrub provide a good habitat for birds such as whitethroat, willow warbler and blackcap. Flocks of thrushes and occasionally waxwings, feast on the hawthorn berries in autumn and winter.

Gravel Hole began as one of many gravel pits which were worked around Norton from around 1850. These extracted a mixture of dolomite, sandstone and limestone deposited with layers of boulder clay at the end of the last ice age, approximately 12,000 years ago.

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Map & Directions

Road Directions

From the A19 take the A1027 to Norton. At the lights turn right onto Fieldfare Lane, then left onto Crooks Barn Lane. Immediately turn right onto Shearwater Lane, follow until it bends left into Fulmar Road. Go straight on into the cul-de-sac and park (please don't block residents drives). Follow the footpath over the railway line (STOP, LOOK, LISTEN!). Go through the gate, turn right and up the steps. At the top of the steps turn left until you reach a hedge, turn right along the hedge until you reach the entrance of the reserve.

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