Kirklees Valley Local Nature Reserve

Status and site history

Kirklees Valley is the 5 Local Nature Reserve in Bury and was declared on the 21 October 2010.

Kirklees Valley covers a wide area and located between Brandlesholme Road the B6214/B6215 and Tottington/Bury Road the B6213.

Kirklees Valley has a long association with the industrial past. The remains of much of this industrial heritage continue to exert an influence on the appearance of the valley today. In the North of the valley, near Tower Farm, Tottington Mill Printworks was founded. The Mill produced calico printing and had a major influence on the growth of the village of Tottington, employing over 400 people in 1841.

Further down the valley, near the present location of Greenmount Bird Sanctuary, was the site of Kirklees Bleachworks.

Another important feature of the Kirklees Valley is the Kirklees Trail, which was formerly the Bury to Holcombe Brook branch railway line, developed by the Bury and Tottington Railway Company in 1878.


The habitats to be found with Kirklees Valley are varied including woodland, grassland, heathland, ponds, lodges and streams.

The woodland is generally semi-natural and the tree composition is mixed including Oak, Birch, Sycamore, Ash, Alder, Crack Willow, Wych Elm and Beech. The woodland age structure is also varied with regeneration of all the main tree and shrub layer species. Willow and Alder dominate in the wet areas around the lodges and in the former industrial areas.

Of greater importance is the large number of ponds and lodges found within the site. Some are natural but many are former mill lodges and settling tanks which have naturalised and are used by feeding bats, amphibians and colonised by flora associated with wetland habitats. This is the main reason for the designation of Kirklees Valley as an SBI.

A large area of heathland is present behind Tottington High School playing fields. This area was formerly a recreation ground but has not been managed as such in recent history. Ling (Calluna vulgaris) is present in a mosaic with unimproved acid grassland.


All the common woodland bird species are represented including Jay, Wren, Nuthatch and Blackbird. Blackcap is a summer visitor, as is Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Dipper and Kingfisher have also been seen along Kirklees Book and some of the large lodges.

Amphibian species are well represented including Smooth, Palmate and Great Crested Newts.

Roe Deer have been seen frequently throughout the valley.

Six of the sixteen resident bat species have been recorded regularly within the valley, demonstrating the importance of the area for bats.

When to visit

  • Spring: Amphibians. Newts, frogs and toads can be found in many of the lodges and water bodies.

  • Summer: Bats. An important feeding site for 6 species of bats. An evening walk should reveal many bats as they hunt for winged insects over the water and along the woodland paths.

  • Autumn: Fungi. A wide variety of fungi can be found over the site, a result of a varied mix of habitats.

  • Winter: Roe Deer. Look out for Roe Deer tracks as they forage during the winter months.


From the start of Kirklees Trail at Brandlesholme Road, next to the Bull's Head Pub, access is good and the trail surface is flat with an all weather covering. Away from the Trail and into valley the paths are variable, some are cobbled, uneven and often muddy when wet. There are a number of paths that skirt around the lodges and caution is needed when negotiating these.

Time / Distance

The time required to walk the site can vary depending on the route and the purpose of the visit. A walk along the disused railway line, known as the Kirklees Trail can take little more than 40 minutes. A circular route which takes in more of the site from Kirklees Street along the Viaduct overlooking Island Lodge towards Tower Farm and down the valley, returning via the Trail at Sunnywood Lane will take more than an hour.

How to get there

  • By bus: Access to the Kirklees Trail can be made from the bus terminus of the 469 via a short walk along Kirklees Street. On weekdays the bus runs to Tottington every 30minutes from Rochdale and every 10 minutes from Bury.

  • By bicycle: Route 6 of the National Cycle Network follows the Kirklees Trail and is signed from north and south.


If arriving by car, there is parking off Market Street near Tottington Library and access to Kirklees Trail can be made via Laurel Street. Parking is also possible on street along Brandlesholme Road, near the entrance to the Kirklees Trail at Greenmount, Kirklees Street and on South Royd Street.


There are no public toilets attached to the site.

Further information

For more information about Local Nature Reserves, contact the Local Nature Reserve Officer in the Strategic Planning and Economic Development team.

Contact for Strategic Planning and Economic Development