What better way to dispose of an unwanted opencast coal mining excavation can there be than to convert it into a nature reserve with associated trails and view points. Opencast coal mining operations were taking place as far back as the 1950’s and have continued right up to recent years despite the dramatic river intrusion following a collapse of the river bank (Aire) in the 1980’s.
Leeds City Council along with the successive mining companies have progressively uprated the site enabling wildlife to re-establish and prosper and constructing the ways and means of access for the benefit of the public.
The final act was to hand over the site to the RSPB to manage the 1,000 acres of wildlife habitat with interconnecting footpaths, grassland, reed beds, woodland and open water with man made islands boasting any number of birds and mammals which are there to view.
All this enabling the RSPB to encourage and further develop our knowledge of the many facets of wild life on our doorstep by means of a leisure pursuit. It is suitable for joggers, walkers, cyclists, people with push chairs even people on horseback are welcome.
The entrance gate from the Shann Hall bridge delivers access onto a central causeway which bisects the newly named Lemonroyd Lake and Main Lake on the right. Other means of approach from Methley are at the Lemonroyd Bridge and the Caroline Bridge gates.
The Causeway continues further to again bisect on the Victoria and the Albert reedbeds after dividing to give access to the main pathway which, to the east skirts the newly named Astley Lake and Fleakingley Reservoir.
To the west the path leads to the Ha’penny Pool, Oxbow Lake, Lowther Lake and Bowers Lake before meeting at the Visitor Centre.
North from the Centre offers a superb elevated viewing position giving a panorama of the whole site and indeed the village of Methley. Further information from here – www.rspb.org.uk/staidans