Chevin Forest Park Local Nature Reserve is located in the Wharfe Valley and overlooks the market town of Otley. The reserve consists of north-facing escarpment, which has a mixed cover of woodland, meadow and heathland and covers an area of some 180 hectares. Massive outcrops of millstone grit dominate the crest of the escarpment, which rises steeply to a height of 280m above sea level, and offers magnificent views of the Wharfe Valley.
The whole park was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1989 in recognition of its wealth of wildlife including nationally and regionally rare plant and animal species. A variety of wildlife habitats can be found there, including woodland, scrub heathland, grassland, still and running water and rocky millstone grit outcrops.
The Chevin also contains a nationally important geological feature on the White House side of the escarpment called Great Dib Wood. This has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as it is the only place the Otley Shell Bed – a package of thin mudstones and limestones containing extremely well-preserved marine fossils – is exposed.
The park is well served by footpaths and bridleways, some of which form parts of the Dales Way Link and the Ebor Way. All the routes are steep in places and can be muddy in wet conditions, so some caution is needed. However, East Chevin Quarry and Surprise View car parks provide good starting points to explore the park.
The Chevin has a thriving Friends of group that help to care for the site. You can find out more about them by following the link to their website on the right of the page.
Chevin Forest Park successfully achieved the Green Flag Award in 2010/11 and 2011/12.