Rothwell Pastures Nature Reserve
Know before you go
Parking informationUse Church Street car park (footpath leads to the reserve)
Not suitable for wheelchair users. Accessed by footpaths.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to September
Rothwell Pastures is a mosaic of scrub, hedgerows, ponds and meadows, each being home to a wealth of wildlife.
The large meadow grassland in the northern area of the site includes wildflowers that attract butterflies such as the common blue, speckled wood, meadow brown and the striking day-flying cinnabar moth.
Woodland, including naturally regenerating birch, is situated throughout the site. Watch the transformation of hawthorn, oak and ash trees as nectar-producing blossoms become nut and berry autumn larders for birds such as dunnock, yellowhammer, bullfinch, goldfinch and blackbird.
Along the southern area of the site runs a series of becks including West, Carlton, Oulton and Haigh Beck. If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the rare and shy water vole. In the pond and associated wetland habitat keep your eyes peeled for the toads, frogs, mallards, moorhens and kingfishers.
The disused railway link to the west also connects a variety of smaller habitats, providing an important corridor for wildlife and public access.
There are several paths throughout the site, leading from the four main entry points to the site. Rothwell Pastures is part of the green corridor the Lower Aire Valley in Leeds which is owned by Leeds City Council and managed in partnership with the Trust.
- Spring: Amphibians - Common toad; Birds - Blackcap; Whitethroat; Willow warbler
- Summer: Plants - Bird's-foot trefoil; Bladder campion; Invertebrates - Cinnabar
- Autumn: Plants - Hawthorn
- Winter: Birds - Yellowhammer
A site steeped in history, Rothwell pastures used to be the site of grand mansions and a hunting park rich in wild boar and deer until 1339 when the last wild boar was killed. Now all that remains of the past mansions is a stack of stones, known locally as Rothwell Castle. The site can also boast a royal history including visits from King John and Edward II.
Around 1069 Rothwell Pastures was granted to Ilbert de Lacy by William the Conqueror, and amongst the many changes that came to be under the de Lacy family was that the vast woodland which covered the district of 'Rothwell Haigh' became the hunting park.
After the last wild boar was killed the manor house and buildings, which had been the administrative centre for the district, fell out of favour and by the end of the 15th Century were said to be in 'great ruyine and decay'. Although the land was farmed until the late 1970s the buildings were all but demolished, leaving Rothwell Castle as the last remnants of the medieval manor house.
Regular buses run between Rothwell and both Leeds and Castleford.
Take the A639 from Leeds. At the roundabout take the second exit onto A61/ Leeds road. Keep right on the A61 and then take the second left at the next roundabout, above the M1. Take the next left onto Wood Lane and follow this round until you reach Church Street. There is a small car park on your right at the bottom of the hill.