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Management Plan (provisional)

Note: This is a provisional plan only... the work is still in progress and a full copy of the final version will be posted on this site as soon as it is available. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions concerning this provisional plan please feel free to contact us.

Last updated: 25th August 2001

Site Assessment

The Land


Gledhow Valley Woods is an isolated stretch of woodland in the North of Leeds, surrounded by densely built up areas. The site is classified as ancient woodland. A lot of its vegetation mirrors this classification with a mixture of locally native and introduced species. Bluebell proliferates.

The woodland can be divided into a number of distinctive compartments, in which different species and age groups dominate:

  • Mature woodland with beech, Sycamore and mixed native broadleaves.
  • Mature woodland with dense holly.
  • Natural regeneration zones dominated by ash and oak.
  • Established oak and mixed broadleaved woodland.
  • Beech plantation.
  • Beech plantation with mixed broadleaves.

The plantation of beech dating to the turn of the last century stands out in being very even aged, and of poor plant diversity. A programme to gradually replace them, by felling of small areas and allowing natural regeneration, has been initiated. Currently, a strip of about 20m width on the Northern edge of the plantation has been clear felled in 2000, and is being monitored for its regeneration. Some erosion, leading to gully formation, has occurred in this spot.


The stream enters Gledhow Valley in the Northwest corner from a culvert and is soon joined by a tributary from the north end of the site. This tributary is probably fed by a spring (indicated on a 1908 map as Tan House Well near the beginning of the stream). A number of smaller streams fed by springs along the main South West facing slope are joining the stream in its course. Halfway down the northern section of the site, the stream leaves the management area, crossing underneath the road and flowing on its opposite side. It re-enters the management area just south of Gledhow Lane.

In two points, storm water overflow from the sewage system enters the stream. One of these entry points is located along the tributary in the northern section of the site, the other one outside the management area, on the other side of Gledhow Valley Road.

All along the stream and lake there is evidence of erosion, unregulated crossings and litter. Especially in the lower part of the stream and Gledhow Lake there are also problems of pollution resulting from the sewerage storm water discharge, and possibly eutrophication.

In the middle section of the site, there are several pockets of wetland providing habitats for associated plants and animals.

Open Areas

The largest open space is located in the North West Corner of the site partly as an area of grassland used for recreation and some community events, partly as the tall herb and shrub layer of the woodland edge. The local community uses this area fairly intensively, and it is mown regularly. One controversial use is for motorbike practice.

The zone of natural regeneration in the middle section is currently providing sufficient light for abundant growth of an herb and shrub layer. In the course of this area's succession towards mature woodland, these species association will gradually give way to woodland understorey and ground cover species, some of which are already present.

The area around Gledhow Lake and along Gledhow Valley Road comprises a number of areas managed as meadows, with varying degrees of human interference.

Access - Paths & Roads

The main road through the site is Gledhow Valley Road, which links Chapel Allerton with Harehills. It is a moderately busy road. Two minor roads also impact the site. Allerton Grange Way forms its northern boundary, while Gledhow Lane separates the site halfway. The FGVW group has cited speeding cars as a cause for concern.

North of Gledhow Lane, there is one path leading along the stream and its tributary, more or less parallel with the road. The council's leisure department with the help of local residents is currently securing it. In several sections, there are problems with accessibility due to the wet ground and the narrow, steep bank. In two points, concrete paths with steps, connecting Gledhow estate with Gledhow Valley Road, cross the main path. Lighting on these paths is installed but not working, giving rise to safety concerns.

South of Gledhow Lane, several paths branch out into the woods on different levels of the slope. Most of them rejoin by the lake. Most paths in this section are reasonably accessible, but could do with upgrading. One path leads along the ridge of the slope. Along these paths, erosion is occurring in several spots.

Use of the paths is by walkers and cyclists. While these uses are not mutually exclusive, there is potential of conflict between them.

Other Features

The old Bath House at the South East end of the site dares back from 1681. It belongs to the Wades Charity, is maintained by Leeds City Council. It is in good condition, following its recent renovation. It is currently not accessible to the public.

Above the Bath House, remnants of a sandstone quarry form a regionally important geological site (RIGS).

Site Use & Users

The predominant use of the site is for recreational activities, such as walking, nature observation, fishing, cycling. In the open area in the Northwest, there are occasional motorcyclists. Among these activities, mountain biking and motorcycling are of particular concern for the state of paths and the adjoining habitats. They can also be in conflict with the use of the site by other people. Speeding cars along Gledhow Valley Road are another nuisance, and potentially dangerous to people wanting to access the woods. Other areas of concern are dog fouling and litter.

A number of individuals and groups of people are involved in monitoring and managing the site. The Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods (FGVW) have been particularly active, and their experience and knowledge of the site is invaluable for its future management.

In recent years, regular open days have provided a focus on the woods and an opportunity for the general public to find out more about them, and get involved in their management. FGVW have been organising regular work and clean up days.

Legal & Planning Aspects

The Northern section up to Gledhow Lane is owned by Leeds City Council's Housing Department, the middle section between Gledhow Lane and Gledhow Lake by the Leisure Department. The Southern section is owned by Wade charity. The Nature Conservation Section of LCC's Leisure Department manages the whole site.

Gledhow Valley Woods are registered within the UDP as Leeds Nature Area/ LNA 24.

Site Analysis


Positive Aspects

  • Site of ancient semi-natural woodland.
  • Diverse mosaic of habitats including mature and regenerating woodland, streams, wet flushes, a lake, grass, scrub and deadwood habitats.
  • 116 plant species recorded (ref 1), one red listed species (Helleborine).
  • Bluebells indicate ancient woodland site.
  • Wildlife reservoir in densely populated area.
  • Over 120 species of birds recorded (40 breeding, 30 resident) (ref 2).
  • Two nationally notable invertebrate species associated with old woodland (ref 3).

Areas of Concern

  • Water pollution.
  • Erosion of stream bank and paths.
  • Large species-poor plantation of beech.
  • Potentially invasive non-native species.
  • Problems with rats?

Interesting Aspects

  • Potential for new habitats, e.g. bog, wildflower meadows, reed beds.


Positive Aspects

  • Screening and security of adjacent properties.
  • Area of high recreational value for residents of adjacent areas.
  • Potential for a wide range of activities.
  • No significant signs of vandalism.

Areas of Concern

  • Conflicting uses.
  • Nuisance caused by some users to others - mountain bikes, motor cycles.
  • Speeding cars on adjacent roads.
  • Litter.
  • Dog fouling.


  • Old quarry (RIGS) - carboniferous sandstone blocks (Elland Flag) with evidence of work on the rock (ref 4).
  • Remnants of Gledhow Hall Estate, including the old carriage drive and lake (ref 5).
  • Bath house dating from 1681, now a listed building, in good condition (ref 6).


A great asset for the valley is the established and very active Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods group. Any strategy for the valley's management can build on the extensive knowledge of the site and great care for it by this committed group.

Management Objectives

  1. Maintain and enhance the diversity of woodland, open and wet habitats.
  2. Protect, enhance and, where appropriate, enlarge the areas of native woodland.
  3. Make improvements to the ecological health of the site where possible.
  4. Maintain and improve access for appropriate site use.
  5. Make provisions for the safety and security of all site users.
  6. Accommodate the interests of different site user groups.
  7. Provide interpretation of the site for the public.
  8. Involve the public in the site management.

Management Proposals

For many of the proposals listed below, the establishment of a ranger service for the valley would be of great benefit. Building on the work of the Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods, LCC's countryside section and other local residents, the ranger would also be working in partnership with them. S/he would be able to monitor the development of the valley, develop detailed proposals for its improvement and liase with local residents and other site users.

  1. Study and record the development of the various habitats and their succession.
    Keep open wetland habitats, and investigate their potential for improvement and extension.
    Research the possibilities for creation of a reed bed.
    Manage open habitats, to prevent their overgrowing.
    Set up trials for the creation of areas of wildflower meadow in appropriate places.

  2. Study and record the species mix in different areas.
    Maintain a diversity of stands (e.g. ash/oak/holly dominated areas).
    Encourage an understorey of woody shrubs and ground flora.
    Designate areas for selective felling of beech and sycamore.
    Ageing trees along roads to be replaced by native species.
    Designate areas for selective felling of ageing beech and sycamore, favouring native trees and shrubs in natural regeneration.
    Observe the development and impact on the land of clear felled strip.
    Observe the process of natural regeneration where it occurs.
    Consider strategies to enhance natural regeneration in these areas (e.g. contour ripping, swales).

  3. Investigate trial of reed beds to deal with sewage overflow discharge.
    Control and secure areas where erosion occurs.
    Monitor and restrict spread of potentially invasive species.
    Collect seeds of healthy mature trees, to replant if necessary.

  4. Explore possibilities of opening the Bathhouse for visitors.
    Consider more versatile options for use of the lake.

  5. Check possibilities and options of traffic calming measures on adjacent roads with the Highways department.
    Secure and upgrade paths for better access.
    Create routes and areas for full disabled access where possible.
    Consider appropriate points establishing for footbridges over the stream.
    Create more regular access points from the top.

  6. Consider creation of a cycle path on parts of Gledhow Valley Road and Allerton Grange Way.
    Maintain and improve lighting of paths where necessary.
    Provide more seating and litter bins.
    Investigate ways of dealing with dog fouling.

  7. Liase with all users groups to find out their needs regarding the site (use questionnaires, interviews and other techniques).
    Develop strategies to accommodate potentially conflicting needs.
    Provide alternative sites or facilities for uses inappropriate to this site.

  8. Liase with all users groups to find out their needs regarding the site (use questionnaires, interviews and other techniques).
    Develop strategies to accommodate potentially conflicting needs.
    Provide alternative sites or facilities for uses inappropriate to this site.
    Keep organising public events to socialise and give information about the valley and developments in it.
    Create information points and leaflets about aspects and features of the site.
    Involve residents in developing interpretation material (e.g. through questionnaires, interviews)
    Themed guided walks through the valley.
    Make links with local schools, to make use of the educational value of the woods.

  9. Develop involvement strategy in co-operation with Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods and Leeds City Council.
    Continue to hold working days for volunteers.
    Involve local residents in the planning and running of events (listed in point 7 above).


1) Plant list, FGVW.
2) "The Birds of Gledhow Valley", Martin Calvert.
3) "Invertebrate Site Register 67/40", Leeds Scientific Society?
4) "Designation sheet", W Yorks RIGS Group.
5) "GVW Leeds - a site of local historic interest", Parvinder S. Chana, Bishop Burton College.
6) "GVW Leeds - a site of local historic interest".

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