King Barrow Quarries Reserve
A hundred years after quarrying, nature is now this sites most valuable asset.
King Barrow, or Kingsbarrow, quarries were last worked for Portland Stone over a hundred years ago. Since being abandoned, the worked rock faces and quarry floor have regenerated naturally to form areas of warm, sheltered, open grassland and patches of bare rock and scree, providing habitats for rare and uncommon plants such as horseshoe vetch, kidney vetch and Portland feather-moss. Rotational scrub management is needed to prevent encroachment into the grassland. Situated high up on the Isle of Portland, the reserve also has excellent views of the Dorset mainland, Chesil Beach & the Fleet lagoon.
Restoring the Quarries for wildlife
Large scale habitat restoration by removal of invasive, non-native scrub species has been undertaken across the Portland Quarries as part of a Viridor funded partnership project. At King Barrow, as elsewhere, wildflowers are now returning to large areas of the quarries previously swamped by a blanket of cotoneaster and buddleia. See our Portland Living Landscape project pages for before and after shots, and even an aerial fly-through of the sites.
On the Isle of Portland take the A354, climb the hill and go straight over the roundabout. Just after this look for a turning off to the left with roadside parking, or parking in a small parking area just off Yeates Road. The entrance to the reserve is marked by a finger post just off this road. Use the 'Get directions' link to see bus and cycle routes.
Access and safety
Main access point through a gap in the wall leading to an interpretation point with views over the site. This area is fairly flat but elsewhere the paths follow moderately steep slopes down into the quarry bottom and may be rocky and uneven in parts. A number of paths cross the site with access into the site from the playing fiedl to the north, by public footpath from the South West Coast Path to the east and, via Tout Quarries, to the western loop of the Coast Path. Visitors should be aware that there are some sheer rock faces and steep slopes. In places there may be loose stones underfoot and areas of scree should be avoided.
Species and habitats
Limestone grassland, bare rock.
Whitethroat, linnet, little owl; chalkhill blue, silver-studded blue, marbled white, chalk carpet moth, buck's-horn plantain, black knapweed, ploughman's spikenard. Several nationally scarce lichens and bryophytes.
Nearby nature reserves
Nature reserve map
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