Thompson Meadow

Brockdale Nature Reserve, Kirk Smeaton, North Yorkshire

Grid Reference: SE 508 168

Thompson Meadow lies nestled within the narrow, steep-sided valley of the River Went.

The valley sides are thin-soiled and often steep, so meadows here have remained undisturbed with a rich variety of wild flowers. Springtime cowslips are abundant, along with early-purple orchids, red and white campion and the deep blue of germander speedwell. Tall specimens of moonwort fern may be spotted by sharp-eyed visitors. Lime-loving species include clustered bellflower, pyramidal orchid and bee orchid.

Here, the River Went cuts through rock known magnesian limestone as it passes between the villages of Wentbridge and Kirk Smeaton. This limestone, from which the Houses of Parliament were built, is a very rare 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.

The slope has a scattering of hawthorn and bramble, which provides cover for birds, and an old quarry railway line that supports a line of mature ash and sycamore trees. There is also a flat meadow by the River Went, which occasionally floods and is known as ‘ing’ grassland.

Management of the reserve includes cattle grazing, hay cutting and control of encroaching scrub. Thompson Meadow sits within the much larger Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Brockadale Nature Reserve.

What to see and when

  • DecLesser celandine, wood anemone
  • DecCowslip, early-purple orchid
  • JanYellow-rattle, common spotted-orchid, common rock-rose
  • NovRestharrow, clustered bellflower, common centaury, dropwort
  • NovAutumn gentian, field scabious, Devil's-bit scabious, yellow-wort, carline thistle