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Letchmire Pastures Local Nature Reserve

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Letchmire Pastures in Allerton Bywater supports a mosaic of wetland, bare earth and grassland habitats which have developed on a former coal-stocking area. It is located on low-lying land near to the River Aire and covers an area of 13 hectares.  This part of the Leeds district was extensively mined for coal in the past, and the ground has subsequently slumped, or subsided and a number of small, shallow ings have developed as water has collected in the hollows. Recent landscaping has enhanced some of these wetland features so that today a number of ponds of different sizes and depths can be seen.

During the spring and summer the ponds are alive with damselflies and dragonflies, including brown and common hawkers as well as darters, skimmers and chasers.

The damp grassland and muddy margins around the ponds are rich in invertebrates and these attract birds such as lapwings and common snipe and ringed plover which feed on them.  These ground-nesting birds are also attracted to the site because of the open conditions between the ponds, as the stony ground provides ideal cover for their cryptically camouflaged eggs.  However, it is especially important not to walk across this area or allow dogs off their leads onto this area during the spring and summer when they may be mating or looking after their young.

In between these wetland areas the underlying soil is fairly acidic and creates areas of dark, bare earth that warms up in the summer, creating special conditions for unusual plants and also burrowing insects such as beetles, wasps and bees. The grassland areas support some rare plant species and provide a feast of colour during spring and summer.  Uncommon insects such as the brown argus butterfly can be seen seeking out wildflowers such as crane's-bill and stork's-bill in the summer.