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Wrenthorpe Park

Monday, 19th March 2001, West Yorkshire

alvtriang.gif - 18389 Bytes FOOT AND MOUTH restrictions make it next to impossible to complete a walk in the Calder valley countryside without straying onto land grazed by sheep or cattle. Luckily the city of Wakefield has a small patch of relict countryside right on its doorstep. You can spend an afternoon here walking the well-worn paths without the risk of inadvertently spreading the virus.

Sometimes referred to as the Alverthorpe Triangle, Wrenthorpe and Alverthorpe Meadows are bordered on their eastern edge by the GNER London to Leeds railway and hemmed in by the housing estates of Wrenthorpe and Alverthorpe on the the other two sides. Silcoates School and Alverthorpe Church, which is reputedly the most land-locked church in northern England, overlook it from the west.

So, joining the joggers, dog walkers and the occasional rogue motorbike, what can you expect to see here in the way of wildlife? Some years ago Tawny, Barn, Long-eared, Short-eared and Little Owl could be seen hunting but on our stroll we saw a variety of smaller birds such as Robin, Greenfinch and Wren. They're attracted to the Willows, Birches, Alders and White Poplar which were planted here when when a derelict sewage works and a redundant branch line were landscaped some ten of fifteen years ago.

reedmace A pond in the middle of the site is used to give some control over the flooding in Balne Beck. A strandline of twigs and debris on the slope a stone's throw from the pond shows just how far the water can rise. We watched a Heron that had just caught a fish by a clump of Reedmace, fly off to stand on the grass nearby to swallow its prey, closely observed by a Crow, which soon touched down beside it.

A Kestrel flew off from its perch on the telephone wires to hunt over the meadows.


vole burrows Balne Beck is one of the few places locally where you might catch a glimpse of a Water Vole, the 'Ratty' of Wind in the Willows, but you're more likely just to hear the 'plop' as one of them dives into the water and swims away. The bank of the stream is peppered with their burrows. In the country as a whole their numbers have plunged alarmingly. One reason that they've managed to hang on here might be because the streamside path is so popular with dogwalkers. Minks released from fur farms have spread to colonise most rivers, canals and streams. Water voles soon disappear when the mink, a predator, moves in. Regular disturbance by dogs may have discouraged the mink from taking over this stretch of stream.

How to Get There

There's a car park in Wrenthorpe Park, Wrenthorpe Road. To reach 'the Triangle' from Wakefield Westgate station, turn right as you walk out onto Westgate, go under the railway bridge and immediately take your first right again. Follow Love Lane alongside the prison then cross Balne Lane and find a footpath ahead which follows the foot of the railway embankment on your right along the edge of a playing field. Continue on this path alongside the housing estate on your left to emerge on the slope overlooking the pond.

Alverthorpe Church

Alverthorpe Church Alverthorpe Church (1823-5) was built with the proceeds of the battle of Waterloo. It is one of the churches paid for out of a one million pound fund which was part of a war indemnity which Britain demanded from Austria at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

A headstone near the tower records a mining tragedy;
To the Memory of
who was blown up into the
air by an explosion of
Fire Damp and afterward
fell into the Pit,
whilst Banking at Messrs
Barker and Child's Colliery
in this Village on the 13th
day of August 1851
Aged 55 years
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Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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