Fitts Fields

In 2019 the trust signed a farm business tenancy agreement in order to manage this reserve, a nine acre site of rare unimproved grassland. The fields are on either side of the Fitts Lane footpath which leads to the River Wharfe and is accessed on Harewood Road opposite Cleavesty Lane.


The whole area lies on Millstone grit. Lower down the fields there is a deposit of glacial till which is being eroded by the River Wharfe to form a steep unstable cliff.

Flora and Fauna

An initial botanical survey of the site recorded 84 different species of plants, trees and shrubs. Some of the wild flowers recorded were: Harebell, Small Stitchwort, Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Cuckooflower, Betony, Common Spotted Orchid and Coltsfoot.
Summer butterfly monitoring recorded the largest population of Purple Hairstreak butterflies in the area. This colony is breeding on the ancient oaks that border the reserve’s fields.


Initially over 2,500 hedgerow saplings were planted by the Friday volunteers to gap up the open hedgerows and some of the surrounding hedges were coppiced. New gates and stock proof fencing were then installed so that conservation grazing could commence in the upper two fields with six rare breed Dexter cows. This type of grazing should in time return these pastures to their former floral richness.

Work has continued on the lower pastures adding stock proof fencing around these fields and further hedge planting. A mixture of 20 different species have been planted including Blackthorn, Willow, Field Maple, Rowan, Crab Apple, Alder and Hawthorn.

Two large ponds have been excavated which will provide additional wetland habitat and work continues along the ancient Fitts Lane footpath to make it usable in all weather conditions.