The Meanwood Valley Local Nature Reserve runs between Meanwood, several kilometres north of the city centre and continues north into the more rural countryside around Adel and Alwoodley.
The reserve contains a mosaic of important wildlife including woodland, lowland heath, meadow, watercourses and ponds. Though much of the valley is readily accessible from local urban areas, it provides an excellent opportunity to experience and enjoy wildlife in often seemingly-remote surroundings.
The valley is centred on two watercourses, the topmost being Adel Beck which rises in Bramhope, but which gives way to Meanwood Beck just south of the Outer Ring Road. The becks are home to fish, such as stone loach and bullhead, as well as the native white-clawed crayfish, which looks like a olive/brown small lobster, but which is sadly now in decline nationally following the introduction of an American species in the 1980s.
Where the becks flow between boulders and within the woodland, the cool, moist conditions provide the perfect habitat for ferns, liverworts and mosses. In contrast, the poor, free-draining soils and open and exposed conditions at Adel Moor are ideal for heather and if you’re particularly lucky, you may spot common lizards which live here. Small ponds along the valley are also the breeding grounds of frogs, toads and newts.
An excellent way to explore the valley is to follow the Meanwood Valley trail which runs from Woodhouse Moor, through the Meanwood Valley and on to Breary Marsh at Golden Acre. There are waymarks along the route and you can also download a basic Meanwood Valley Trail map from this page. There are car parks at Meanwood Park, off Green Road in Meanwood, Adel Woods, off Stairfoot Lane in Alwoodley and Golden Acre Park off Otley Road in Bramhope.