West Yorkshire

With a population of well over 2 million people, large scale urban connurbations and criss crossed by several major motorways it's easy to assume that West Yorkshire has little to offer in terms of wildlife interest. And yet, away from the urbanisation and very often within it, there are many green havens and wild landscapes to explore where the wildlife thrives alongside the region's industrial past.

west yorkshire regions

Divided into the 5 districts of - Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale & Bradford, the western half of the region is dominated by the peaks and foothills of the South Peninne mountain range which form the western boundary with Lancashire. The hilly terrain and steep sided valleys around Bradford and Calderdale reflect this influence and contain a wealth of upland habitats including open moorland, wooded ravines and craggy outcrops. The eastern half of the region is flatter with rolling hills and broad valleys that eventually level out into the Vale of York. Generally more populous, especially around the city of Leeds, much of the landscape is shaped by a more industrial age. Many of the old coal mining workings have been 'rewilded' and turned into nature reserves and the network of canals that once served the woolen mills have been cleaned up and provide useful wetland habitats for wildlife. Further to the east near Wakefield there is an elevated stretch of magnesium limestone which along with its associated ancient woodland represents a unique county habitat. Within the areas of urbanisation there are many areas of parkland and accessible estate land which offer green spaces for wildlife.

Selected Top Sites (see map right)

Designated nature reserve
Local site


Header Image - St. Aidans, RSPB

Header Image W.Yorks map attribution - Nilfanion, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons