The Wykbeck Valley is on the east of Leeds. The beck runs from Waterloo Lake in Roundhay Park, through the Gipton, Seacroft, Killingbeck and Halton boroughs of east Leeds, emerging into the River Aire opposite Rothwell Country Park.
Throughout this urban setting in east Leeds, grasslands are interspersed with woodland, scrub and hedgerows, providing a valuable habitat corridor for many birds and mammals.
The freshwater of the beck also provides a home for the white clawed crayfish (the UK’s only native species of crayfish).
Along the Wyke Beck Valley are five local nature reserves (LNRs):
- Wykebeck Woods is an area of ancient semi-natural, broad-leaved wet woodland south of Roundhay Park. The meadow on the hillside provides a varied display of wildflowers through the summer with the woodlands below having a breeding bird assemblage including song thrush and tree creeper. There is historical and archaeological interest with the remains of a formal designed garden (part of the grounds of the now demolished Asket Hill House) which includes tree species such as Lombardy poplar. There are also the remains of a collapsed stone footbridge, stone weir and a large stone bridge and carriage drive.
- Arthur’s Rein is an area of semi-improved grassland with areas of less intensively mown, species-rich grassland providing a varied wildflower display in the summer. There are scattered trees and small areas of planted broad-leaved woodland - a mixture of broad-leaved trees, including alder, common oak, sycamore and willow.
- Killingbeck Fields is an area of species rich neutral grassland divided up by a complex of old hedgerows, which generally follow the curve of the contours and terraces cut into the side of the valley. A section of the Wyke Beck runs through the site and is an important refuge for the nationally threatened white clawed crayfish. Small woodland blocks, scrub and a pond add further dimensions to the mosaic of habitats alongside the flower rich meadows which are annually cut for hay. The diversity of Killingbeck Fields LNR provides habitats for breeding birds but also birds of prey (such as kestrels, buzzards and red kites) which circle over the open fields hunting for prey. You may even spot a kingfisher darting along the beck!
- Primrose Valley has a mosaic of habitats including large areas of species rich grassland, and blocks of broad-leaved trees such as oak, beech, silver birch, sycamore and wild cherry, mixed with some coniferous species. There are also areas of scattered scrub and hedgerows. To the east of the site is a pond which has records of frog and smooth newt.
- Halton Moor is the southern most nature reserve in the Wyke Beck Valley. It is made up of species rich grassland, deciduous woodland and scrub.