Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Leyburn Old Glebe is a rare jewel in an area where so many fields are regularly fertilized and cut for silage. This small wildflower meadow is situated on a gently sloping bank above the River Ure in the lower reaches of Wensleydale, with fine views across the dale to Penhill and to the ridge above Coverdale which rises towards Great Whernside. To the north is the wooded limestone scar of Leyburn Shawl.
A traditional hay meadow, Leyburn Old Glebe is the richest remaining fragment of Ellershaw, a district well-known to naturalists since the 19th Century.
The site is a fine example of the type of species rich flower meadow that would have been common in the Yorkshire Dales before agricultural intensification resulted in the improvement of grasslands.
Over 80 plants have been recorded in recent surveys, many of which are typical of calcareous grassland. They thrive on the thin soil of the south facing slope of the nature reserve. 11 species of grass, including common bent, heath grass and quaking grass grow here. The herb flora includes abundant salad burnet and wild thyme as well as a range of other species such as cowslip, fairy flax, eyebright and orchids, including the spectacular burnt-tip.
Visit in May of June for the best display of wildflowers or tie in a trip with a visit to the local pub, Three Horseshoes in Wensley, for a hearty fire and pint of ale!
Once belonging to the local church, the field was never ploughed or reseeded, which has allowed it to retain its integrity. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust acquired the site in 1983 and has continued to manage it as a traditional hay meadow. The wildflowers are left to grow and set seed before being cut for hay in July. The field is then usually grazed with a few sheep over winter.
You will enter the nature reserve through a field gate, which was erected in memory of Cherrill Ingram, a former Honorary Secretary to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
The nature reserve is a small fragile site susceptible to damage through trampling of the sward and flower picking, so please take care when visiting.
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.
Buses and seasonal trains to Leyburn then public footpaths.
From Hawes take the A6108 to Wensley, then turn onto Low Lane. The nature reserve is on this road.
Want to see more of Leyburn Old Glebe Nature Reserve before your visit? Have a look below.