Adel Dam, a tranquil nature reserve tucked out of sight, has emerged from a centuries-old working dam and the surrounding land. A rare combination of wet and dry woodland surrounds a lake and pond frequently visiting by kingfishers - the number one attraction. Masses of bluebells and fungi in season are also exceptional.
This woodland nature reserve straddles Adel Beck which runs through a shallow valley, with the former dam central.
Mature native and exotic trees can be found in the mixed woodland, with as many as 36 species. Alder and willow dominate the wet woodland, with sphagnum moss on the ground. Oak, birch, holly, rowan, yew and ask are found in the dry woodland, alongside introduced species like Corsican pine.
Broad buckler ferns and brambles cover the floor with fine showings of bluebells and marsh marigolds in the spring and foxgloves in the summer. A stop off at Marsh Hide to look over the pond and feeding station will reward you with sightings of chaffinch, nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker. Moorhen, coot and mandarin can be seen bringing up their families in summer from the Lake Hide.
Kingfishers - Adel Dam's main attraction - have bred here; if you are lucky you will catch a flash of their bright blue. Elusive species include water rail and lesser spotted woodpeckers. Birds of prey also frequent the site, with resident sparrowhawk and visits from red kites and buzzards. Fungi flourish amongst the standing and lying dead trees. Badgers and roe deer visit the site, and a family of foxes have made the nature reserve their home.
Spring flowers put on a wonderful show, and a couple of kingfishers might be chanced upon at any time.
The site has been noted for its special ecology since 1830 and has been a nature reserve since 1968. Once an operational dam, it fell into disuse with the gradual demise of the water industry. It then became a central feature of a Victorian garden, around which many additional trees were planted. The dam was later breached in the 1930s, allowing water to escape to form the current lake. A loyal supporters group work hard on site, carrying out general maintenance tasks. Plans are in place to increase diversity in the dry woodland, by reducing sycamores and replanting with low to mid canopy shrubs and trees, as well as developing some reed beds.
Café and toilets can be found in adjacent Golden Acre Park. There is a covered entrance lobby with seating for picnics.
Find out more about Adel Dam Nature Reserve from the active volunteer supporters group.
Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife book, which has detailed information on all of Yorkshire Wildlife and Sheffield Wildlife Trust’s reserves, is available to buy now from our online shop.
Take a bus from Leeds or Otley, alight at Golden Acre Park.
If coming by car, park in the Golden Acre car park (off A660) and take the underpass into the park, accessed from the car park of the Mercure Parkway Hotel (LS16 8AG). From the car park follow the footpaths to the bridle path and carry on to the nature reserve entrance. There are wheelchair friendly paths from the car park to the nature reserve and to Marsh Hide, a RADAR key is required by wheelchair users at the nature reserve entrance.
Want to see more of Adel Dam before your visit? Have a look below.