A stunning woodland with a meandering beck trickling through - step into Stoneycliffe Wood, a semi-natural ancient woodland site, to enjoy bluebells and ramsons in spring, breeding birds in summer and fungi in autumn.
Oak and birch regenerate freely at Stoneycliffe Wood nature reserve, whilst holly, hazel and, in one area, heather form an understory.
Historically managed for timber production, some areas have since become dominated by sweet chestnut. Invertebrates thrive here, providing food for the many breeding birds. Benefitting from adjoining woodland to the north and south this collection of woodlands forms a significant tree-covered belt in the wider landscape.
In spring there are magnificent displays of bluebells and wild garlic or ramsons, with yellow archangel in summer, all of which are ancient woodland indicators. Streamside plants include wood club-rush, hemlock water dropwort and Sprengel's bramble. A wide range of woodland birds can be seen. These include a variety of summer migrants such as chiffchaff, garden warbler, lesser whitethroat and spotted flycatcher, all of which breed.
A visit in spring provides huge variety with the carpet of bluebells providing a picturesque backdrop to the meandering beck.
All three species of woodpecker frequent the woodland, feeding on the invertebrates in dead wood, which is an important feature of the site. Several rare species of spider have been recorded. Mammals are widely recorded with bank and short-tailed voles, shrews, wood mice, stoats and foxes all noted.
The nature reserve slopes down steeply from east to west, extending across Stoneycliffe Beck in the southern half. In places the slopes expose outcrops of sandstones of the coal measures which provide further diversity on the woodland floor.
In recent years the Trust has been improving footpaths on the site to provide good access for visitors. Practical conservation includes woodland thinning to increase structural and age diversity and to create more varied dead wood for invertebrates. Bracken and Himalayan balsam are controlled annually to prevent them from invading the site and swamping the woodland flowers.
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 that run from Wakefield to Huddersfield pass through Netherton. Exit on Upper Lane (Coxley View).
The nature reserve is on the western edge of the village of Netherton. A footpath enters the site near the Star Inn. Another entrance is alongside Netherton Cemetery and a third footpath enters from the signposted entrance road to Earnshaw's Timber Centre, almost in Midgley.
Want to see more of Stoneycliffe before your visit? Have a look below.