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Brockadale Nature Reserve

There is always something to see at Brockadale Nature Reserve, although for the best experience visit in the spring and summer. The woodland in springtime offers carpets of wood anemone, bluebell, primrose, violet and early purple orchid before being shaded out by the new leaf growth in the canopy above. Whilst in the summer, the flower-covered slopes are alive with a jewel-case of butterflies and other insects.

Brockadale is in the valley of the River Went as it flows through a craggy, steep-sided gorge formed after the last ice-age when glacial melt-water burst through the magnesian limestone rock.

Now the river meanders along the flat-bottomed valley. The nature reserve is particularly important for its flowery slopes, which have never been ploughed. This grassland habitat is now rare, with magnesian limestone only existing in a narrow band stretching from Nottingham to Durham, it's soil producing excellent farmland. The site's flowers only survive because the valley sides are too steep to cultivate.

 

Top Tip:

 

Walk along the south-facing slopes in July and August when they are purple with clustered bellflower, greater knapweed, common knapweed, and field scabious. Budding photographers shouldn't miss the chance of capturing a butterfly on a sunny day.

Around 350 species of plants grow on the nature reserve, some of which are scarce. Early flowers such as cowslip, common dog-violet and spring cinquefoil, well suited to the limestone soil, can be seen in spring. Native plants such as rock-rose follow, as well as orchids, salad burnet, yellow-wort, betony, field scabious and, in August, a profusion of clustered bellflower. Butterflies abound in the meadows, with the spectacular marbled white and dark green fritillary are unmissable in July. Day-flying moths like six-spot burnet and chimney sweepers are common, with close to 300 species of moths having been identified on site.

The mixed woodland covers the cool, damp valley floor and dry limestone hills. Woodland butterflies like speckled wood and white-letter hairstreak live here. Around 40 species of bird breed on the nature reserve. Great spotted and green woodpeckers, nuthatch and long-tailed tit are resident, whilst warblers such as chiffchaff, willow warbler, blackcap and whitethroat are summer visitors. Yellowhammer and bullfinch are frequently seen in the hedgerows, kingfisher can be spotted along the river, and buzzard and kestrel may pass overhead.

The nature reserve was initially purchased by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust in 1966, but has since increased in size following the purchases of additional land. The Trust manages the grassland by grazing long-horned cattle and sheep in the winter months, and has support from local volunteers.

Building a bigger, better Brockadale

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Brockadale fundraising appeal. With your help we raised over £44,500 which helped us buy a vital piece of land, connecting up two parts of this fantastic nature reserve.

Find out more about Brockadale 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.


Public Transport

There is an infrequent bus service from Pontefract to Doncaster which stops at either Wentbridge, Kirk Smeaton or Little Smeaton.

Directions

From A1 take Wentbridge and Kirk Smeaton turn. Drive east to Kirk Smeaton, go through the village to Little Smeaton and head north west up New Road. Once out of the village turn left down Leys Lane to the car park at the end.

 

Want to see more of Brockadale before your visit? Have a look below.

Our favourite Brockadale Pictures

Brockadale Nature Reserve photos in our Flickr group

 

 

Nearby nature reserves

Willow Garth Nature Reserve
4 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Thorpe Marsh Nature Reserve
7 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Ledsham Bank Nature Reserve
9 miles - Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Reserve information

Location
Leys Lane
Little Smeaton, Pontefract
North Yorkshire
WF8 3LJ
Map reference
SE 513 173
Great for...
birdwatching
butterflies
getting away from it all
spring flowers
wildflowers
Best time to visit
Mar - Sep
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
Size
58.70 hectares
Access
Permissive footpaths and access path for wheelchair users to the entrance of the reserve.
Walking information
Permissive footpaths and access path for wheelchair users to the entrance of the reserve.
Parking
Reserve car park.
Dogs
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Sheep and cattle
Reserve manager
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Tel: 01904 659570
info@ywt.org.uk

Downloads

Factsheets and guides for your visit