Marbled whites Townclose

Townclose Hills Nature Reserve

This Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) gives a stunning show of wildflowers, thanks to its magnesian limestone soil. The woodland is traditionally coppiced with managed scrub which is adding to its appeal for nesting birds.

Location

Westfield Lane
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS25 7LJ

OS Map Reference

SE 40672 30319
A static map of Townclose Hills Nature Reserve

Know before you go

Size
26 hectares

Entry fee

Free

Parking information

Kippax Leisure Centre Car park

Access

There are several footpaths into the site, but the main one runs up from Kippax Leisure Centre car park on Station Road. A track runs from the bottom of Westfield Lane up to the northernmost tip of the site, and the Lines Way, which runs all the way from Garforth to Allerton Bywater, runs along the western edge. This reserve is also accessible by public transport. Limited wheelchair access due to steep slopes and muddy paths.

Dogs

On a lead

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times.

Best time to visit

April - September

About

Townclose Hills, or Billy Woods as it is commonly known, is a prominent knoll of magnesian limestone surrounded by low-lying arable land.

Townclose Hills comprises a steep-sided grassland plateau with woodland, wildflower meadows, scrub and a disused railway cutting with exposed limestone and shallow, spring-fed pools. The grassland plateau became a SSSI in 1984 as the largest example of a magnesian limestone grassland over 1 hectare in the county. The grassland is important for its diverse assemblage of flora and comes alive in the summer with clustered bellflower, field scabious and orchids. From the grassland plateau a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding countryside can be enjoyed.

The wood is the most dominant part of the site. Quarried areas of the site support scrub woodland communities of wych elm, sycamore, hawthorn, blackthorn ash with sanicle and the regionally rare ploughman’s spikenard.  As you walk through the reserve, keep your eyes open for butterflies such as gatekeeper, speckled wood and comma and birds such as yellowhammer, fieldfare and lesser spotted woodpecker.

If you fancy a late night stroll, female glow worms can be seen attracting a mate during summer and you may even spot a badger.

Townclose Hills is part of the green corridor in the Lower Aire Valley in Leeds which is managed in partnership between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Leeds City Council.

Contact the Reserves Officer to get involved in with the Lower Aire Valley volunteer group.

Seasonal highlights

  • Spring: Birds - Cuckoo; Lesser spotted woodpecker; Plants - Cowslip
  • Summer: Invertebrates - Glow Worm; Gatekeeper
  • Autumn: Plants - Clustered bellflower
  • Winter: Birds- Bullfinch

Directions

Public transport
A regular bus runs between Castleford, Kippax and Leeds.

By car
From Castleford take the A656 north, then turn left onto the B6137 into Kippax. Head through the centre of Kippax and take the first exit off the roundabout onto Cross Hills, followed by a slight right onto Station Road. Park at Kippax Leisure Centre on the right.

Nearby