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Thompson Meadow

Location: Brockdale Nature Reserve, Kirk Smeaton, North Yorkshire

Grid Reference: SE 508 168

Thompson Meadow lies in the narrow, steep-sided valley of the River Went which cuts through magnesian limestone rocks between the villages of Wentbridge and Kirk Smeaton south of Pontefract.

Magnesian limestone, from which the Houses of Parliament were built, is a very rare geological strata in Britain. Formed under a warm sea from the precipitates of an already forming limestone during the Permian era, it is younger than most limestones, but older than chalk.

Management of the reserve includes cattle grazing, hay cutting and control of encroaching scrub.

Wildflowers at the reserve

What to see and when

April: Lesser celandine, wood anemone

May: Cowslip, early-purple orchid

June: Yellow-rattle, common spotted-orchid, common rock-rose

July: Restharrow, clustered bellflower, common centaury, dropwort

August: Autumn gentian, field scabious, Devil's-bit scabious, yellow-wort, carline thistle

Thompson Meadow comprises a steep north-facing grassland slope on magnesian limestone, with many special limestone-loving wild flowers including restharrow, thyme, common rock-rose, clustered bellflower, autumn gentian and field scabious.

The slope has a scattering of hawthorn and bramble, which provides cover for birds, and an old quarry railway line that runs across the bottom of the slope and supports a line of mature ash and sycamore trees.

The reserve also includes a flat meadow situated alongside the River Went, which is occasionally flooded and is known as ‘ing’ grassland.


Click here to download a map of the reserve.

Thompson Meadow lies between the villages of Wentbridge and Kirk Smeaton, south of Pontefract in North Yorkshire. Visitors should head for Little Smeaton which can be approached from the A1 via Kirk Smeaton or from the A19 via Norton.

From Little Smeaton, take the road towards Stapleton. A short distance outside Little Smeaton turn left into Leg's Lane. Visitors can park in the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust car park which lies on the left hand side of this lane. The Plantlife reserve is accessible via a footpath over a footbridge.

The nearest train station is Pontefract, which is six miles from the reserve.