Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve lower weir - Jim Horsfall

Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve lower weir - Jim Horsfall

Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve

Just outside the urban heart of Leeds, Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve combines the industrial past with today's vibrant wildlife communities. A keen eye might spot otters or kingfishers by the weirs on the River Aire.


Redcote Lane
West Yorkshire

OS Map Reference

SE 26841 34475
A static map of Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve

Know before you go

10 hectares

Entry fee


Walking trails

Permissive footpaths.


Permissive footpaths. Wheelchair access is limited; contact the Trust for more details.


On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

May to February


Situated on the site of former Kirkstall Power Station, Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve is a fantasic example of nature restoration. The reserve now supports large areas of wildflower meadow and wetland areas of pond, bog and reedbed. Formed on a plateau of fly ash deposits and later landfill, the site was capped and seeded with native wildflower species in the 1990s, while shrubs and trees were planted around the edges. The area, once noted for orchards in medieval times, also supports a number of fruit trees including medlar, quince and five apple varieties.

A variety of habitats have emerged since; meadows sustain a myriad of insect life including the small copper butterfly, young woodland is rich with fruit bearing shrubs attracting feeding birds, ponds and ditches ensure robust populations of toads, frogs and newts.

Over 180 plant species have been recorded on site along with 65 species of birds including grey partridge and a number of mammals such as fox, badger, as well as pipistrelle, noctule and Daubenton's bats. Otters can be seen by the old ford, which is generally impassable for most of the year.

There are also some large mature oak trees with spring bluebells on the island and a pond and wader scrape that has been used by little ringed plovers. Sixteen butterfly species have been recorded including comma and small copper and also six species of dragonfly.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust manages the meadows through cutting and raking in late summer. The woodland is lightly coppiced and thinned in the winter.

There is a bar at the City Golf club house and toilets used with their permission.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Plants - Primrose; Apple tree blossom; Cowslip
  • Summer: Plants -Ox-eye daisy; Meadow vetchling; Invertebrates - Small copper; Amphibian - Common toad
  • Autumn: Plants - Sloe; Apple; Pear; Quince; Medlar
  • Winter: Birds - Goosander; Grey heron; Kingfisher; Bullfinch; Reed bunting


Public transport
There are regular buses along Kirkstall Road from Leeds City Centre with a bus stop at the end of Redcote Lane. Burley Park Railway Station is about 1.5 miles away or a 30 minute walk.

By car
The entrance to the nature reserve is towards the end of Redcote Lane (just off Kirkstall Road), past Fitness First and City Golf and just before the railway bridge on the right. There is parking here on the road near the entrance. Please do not block the gateway. It is about two miles from the centre of Leeds.