The Kilnsey nature reserve
The limestone water meadow at Kilnsey Park is designated a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its vast array of wild orchids and other wild flowers and grasses.
Orchids you are likely to see are:
Early Marsh; Narrow-leaved Marsh; Common Spotted; Twayblade; Early Purple and Fragrant.
During the spring and summer you will see other hybrid wild orchids, noticeable by their vigour and size. Other flowers worthy of note are the Tormentil and Milkwort.
We are also very privileged to have been selected by Natural England as a location for the reintroduction of one of the rarest plants in Britain, the Lady’s -Slipper Orchid. Up until 1930 this flower was thought to be extinct, then a single plant was rediscovered growing in a remote location in Yorkshire. It took decades to discover how to propagate young orchids. Plants were introduced at Kilnsey in 2007 and flowered for the first time in 2009.
We would like to thank the members of Wharfedale Field Society who visit Kilnsey Park on a very frequent basis during the flowering season and identify the various plants for the benefit of all of our visitors.
Lady’s slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus)
This beautiful and delicate orchid is the UK’s rarest flower. It was first recorded in Britain near to Ingleton in 1640. It has always been rare and therefore much prized by collectors. It was declared extinct in Britain in 1917.
Then in 1930, a single plant was discovered in a remote location. Under close protection this plant continues to grow and thrive today. However the privately owned site is very fragile and any viewing strictly prohibited. The plant and its habitat are protected by law.
Today a group called the Cypripedium Committee coordinates conservation work for the plant. They protect the last known wild orchid and from it propagate new ones that are planted out across northern England. Working with Kew Gardens the group successfully reintroduced the orchid back into the countryside on a number of sites. Work continues in search of further suitable locations for new plants. Ultimately the project aims to establish large numbers of orchids on each site that will produce enough seed for populations to sustain themselves.
Kilnsey Park was selected as one of the first opportunities to see the orchids in the wild. Plants were first introduced here in 2007 and flowered for the first time in 2009. Lady’s – Slipper Orchid is a leading light in Natural England’s Species Recovery Programme.
Thanks to Natural England. www.naturalengland.org.uk