A wild reclaimed former colliery site, with a young woodland and meadow where bee orchids are now plentiful.
Letchmire Pastures in Allerton Bywater is a mosaic of wetland, bare earth and grassland habitats that have developed on a former coal-stocking area which was used as a receptor for coal mined immediately to the north of Station Road (which ceased activity by the 1950s).
Today, the majority of Letchmire Pastures has been transformed through landscaping by Leeds City Council to provide a range of water features, bare colliery spoil, wet grassland, acidic and neutral grasslands, scrub, and hedgerows. Much of this landscaping took place In 1996/1997 during the translocation of soils and vegetation from Stourton Marsh (a wetland site to the southeast of Leeds city centre which became the site of the new M1-A1 link road). Stourton Marsh had some regionally rare plant species such as grass vetchling, wood small-reed and significant orchid populations.
Located on low-lying land near to the River Aire the site has subsided following past mining activity resulting in a number of small, shallow ings (pools of water that form when rivers flood). Recent landscaping has enhanced some of these wetland features so that today a number of ponds of different sizes and depths can be seen.
Letchmire Pastures has been designated as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR). LNRs are sites which offer good wildlife interest and educational potential, as well as opportunities for quiet recreation and public enjoyment. This nature reserve can be found located approximately 11km to the south-east of the city centre, on the south-east side of the village of Allerton Bywater. There are a number of permanent shallow water Ings within 4km of Letchmire, the most noteworthy being Mickletown Ings SSSI and Fairburn Ings SSSI/LNR to the east and west respectively.
If you visit Letchmire Pastures, you will see that the site is roughly separated into 3 distinct areas; an area generally dominated by grassland communities and water bodies – this is the largest area and the location of all the translocated soils and vegetation, the northern part of the site which has been reseeded with a grassland and wildflower seed mix (during 1999 the EA utilised part of this area for soil stock-piling whilst flood alleviation works were carried out to the south of the site. Landscaping works have since taken place to install footpaths and plant trees), and the western part of the site, which is mainly composed of rank grassland and marshy grassland. This area was not affected by the translocation of material from Stourton Marsh.
Letchmire Pastures forms part of a corridor of green spaces in the Lower Aire Valley in Leeds which is owned by Leeds City Council and managed in partnership with the Trust.
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Want to see more of Letchmire Pastures Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.