Nostell Priory (05/07/21)

Situated just outside Wakefield, Nostell Priory itself is a former Georgian manor house bequeathed to the National Trust in 1953. I was in West Yorkshire attending a training day so popped in on my way back home for a 2 hour explore of the estate grounds. 

Nostell Priory, nr Wakefield, Yorkshire, location  Nostell Priory, map of the grounds

The grounds cover some 130 Hectares (about 300 acres) and are fairly typical of such places - gently undulating parkland, grassland, meadowland, several woodland areas and a couple of lakes. There are several walks to follow plus a cycle track and I more or less meandered around the main bits on the 2.5 mile Parkland walk.

Nostell Priory, National Trust, main entrance. Yorkshires Wildlife site visit  Nostell Priory, National Trust, parkland. Yorkshires Wildlife site visit

Nostell's main claim to fame from a wildlife point of view are its population of bats with nine species recorded here including Daubentons, Noctule and Whiskered, many of which hunt over the 2 medium sized lakes that also support wetland bird species such as Kingfisher, Great Crested Grebe and various duck species during the winter months. Not much bird life on the lakes when I visited apart from a few Mallard, Mute Swan, Coot and Moorhen but some impressive displays of Fringed Water Lillies certainly took the eye.

Lower Lake, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Site visit, Yorkshires Wildlife  Fringed Water Lillies, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Site visit, Yorkshires Wildlife

The extensive meadows here are what caught my attention and made the most impression on the day though. It seemed to me that apart from one cattle grazed area, most of the available grassland here has been converted by the National Trust into flower rich meadowlands. 

Meadowlands, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Yorkshires Wildlife site visit.  Meadowlands, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Yorkshires Wildlife site visit.

It was an overcast day so not the best weather for wandering across meadows but the wealth of typical plant species such as Yellow Rattle, Mayweed, Birds Foot Trefoil, Common Knapweed and both Red and White Clover were attracting plenty of bees and a few butterfies including Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell.

Knapweed, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Yorkshire's Wildlife site visit, 05/07/21  Scented Mayweed, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Yorkshire's Wildlife site visit, 05/07/21

The former main entrance of the now restored Obelisk gatehouse marks the northern boundary of the estate grounds and from here you can either take the cycle path through mixed deciduous woodland or walk back across yet more wild flower meadows. Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers (scarce birds anywhere in the UK) are sometimes seen around here in winter and I did have a pair of woodpeckers but they were definitely the commoner Great Spotted variety. I did a bit of both, admiring both the range of tree species with many Sweet Chesnut and Limes, and hopelessly trying to identify the numerous grasses on the meadow (who doesn't struggle with grasses and sedges!).

Obelisk Gatehouse, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Site visit, YorkshiresWildlife.co.uk  Smooth Meadow Grass, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Site visit, YorkshiresWildlife.co.uk

Sweet Chesnut, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Site visit, YorkshiresWildlife.co.uk  Lime Tree, Nostell Priory, National Trust. Site visit, YorkshiresWildlife.co.uk

It was rather overcast on the day I visited and I dare say that on a warm sunny day there would have been more butterflies over the meadows and dragonflies across the lakes. Bird species were few and far between too but again, middle of the afternoon in mid summer, what can you expect? I had a few Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Oystercatchers on the lawn in front of the main house and a gaggle of a dozen or so young Mistle Thrushes

Further Information

Nostell Priory visitor information

Obelisk wildflower walk, Nostell PrioryObelisk Walk (popular walk through the meadows at Nostell)

 

Related pages from Yorkshires Wildlife

National Trust sites in Yorkshire

West Yorkshire top sites

 

Nearby nature reserves / wildlife sites

Southern Washlands (Local Nature Reserve)

Fitzwilliam Country Park  (Local Nature Reserve)

Anglers Country Park   (Local Nature Reserve)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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