Adel Dam Nature Reserve Lake with reflection of the sky

Adel Dam Nature Reserve

A peaceful walk around a tranquil site with 19 acres of unique wetlands and woodlands to explore.

Adel Dam Nature Reserve Lake with reflection of the sky

The Adel Dam Nature Reserve borders onto a lake and pond. Bursting with wildlife to discover. The site is not as well known and hidden away.

A true gem, well worth a visit with plenty of sightings of different birds and other animals. Its mix of wet and dry woodland types makes it a rare habitat for insects and other invertebrate species.

Location Details

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Take a look around

  • Adel Nature Reserve Footpath
  • Adel Nature Reserve waterfall
  • Adel Nature Reserve Footpath
  • Adel Nature Reserve raised path
  • Adel Nature Reserve Lake
  • Adel Dam Nature Reserve sign with map

Things to Note

Adel Dam Nature Reserve has the following on-site or nearby:

  • Bird Hides
  • Disabled Access
  • Nearby Food & Drink
  • Nearby Parking
  • Nearby Shops


Adel Dam Nature Reserve is located between Bramhope and Adel just off the A660 along Otley road, around a 17 minute drive from Leeds City Centre.

Golden Acre Park borders the nature reserve and can be accessed via the park. It is also a short walk away from the Breary Marsh Nature Reserve with the popular spot Paul’s Pond towards the south end of the reserve.

Within a 10 minute drive you can also reach Adel Woods for a woodland walk or just a bit further there is Eccup Reservoir for a scenic waterside walk.

Adel Beck which runs through the nature reserve is also a part of The Meanwood Valley Trail.

Things to Do

Walk around Adel Nature Reserve

If you are looking for a great place to walk, Adel Dam Nature Reserve is the place to pick! There is a large circular route to follow with windey wooded paths, stepping stones and bridges to help getting around, however some parts are a bit boggy. Visitors enjoy more of a gentle stroll over a jog or a run at this location.

Explore Nature

This is a popular spot for those who love nature and want to discover the many species of wildlife within the nature reserve grounds. There are around 36 species of trees, a wide variety of birds, the occasional sighting of a roe deer and fox and if near the lake, the common frog.

Different seasons offer the chance to see a variety of wildlife highlights within the reserve.

Many visitors enjoy bird watching and photography. There are two hides within the site, a marsh hide and a lake hide. Both stations offer the great spot to catch a sighting and capture a memorable picture of some of the many species of birds within the reserve.

There are more frequent sightings of the mandarin duck, woodpeckers and grey herons however kingfishers, siskins, red kites and many other species may also pay a visit.


To help preserve the wildlife, dogs and bikes are unfortunately not permitted within the nature reserve.

Fancy Volunteering?

The site is owned and managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and they have some fantastic volunteering opportunities for those wanting to help go and the extra mile to protect the wildlife and maintain the nature reserve. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, keep updated with their opportunities page.

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Today the reserve is owned and run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and helped to be maintained by the support of volunteers. But before this Adel dam had quite the history.

There is evidence that In 400 AD there was a Roman settlement at the location of the dam. It seems to have been quite significant, as it had villas and a fort. There may have also been a water mill. However the earliest record of a mill being on the site is in the 12th century.

In 1760 Adel Dam was created to provide water to the mill. The lake created is very similar to the shape of the lake that is there currently, just far larger. A little while later in 1823 a larger dam was created upstream, but in 1829 a storm caused this new dam to overflow and pull apart its embankment. This torrent passed through Adel dam and into Leeds and the River Aire causing a massive amount of damage.

1900 saw Adel dam become a central feature to a private Victorian garden with a mixture of exotic and native plants. Some of these trees are still there today. However, in 1968 the area became a nature reserve, and in 1986 the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust took over ownership of the site.


There are public toilets located just to the outside of the Golden Acre cafe opposite the car park, around a 12 minute walk from Adel Dam Nature Reserve.

The closest shops are in Adel, you have a Marks and Spencers Simply Food, a Co-op and a large Asda or just a bit further along in Cookridge there is a Tesco and a Nisa if you need to top up on your supplies.

Food and Drink

You can enjoy breakfast, brunch or lunch dishes at the Golden Acre Café located opposite the car park whilst admiring the scenic views of the park.

The Brownlee Arms and The Fox and Hounds are both pubs within the area with outdoor seating areas, are dog friendly and have car parks onsite. So if you want to relax and enjoy some traditional pub food, you have plenty of places to choose from.

You will be spoilt for choice when choosing a restaurant upon your visit here as there is a great choice of highly rated restaurants nearby. Ristorante Sorriso serves authentic Italian food and Tuana Bistro fuses a Turkish and Greek cuisine to make a distinctly Mediterranean flavour.

If you’re ready to head off home and treat yourself to a takeaway, The Avenue Fish Bar is just around the corner to pick up some tasty treats.


Adel Dam is located in the middle of two car parks, giving you a bit more flexibility depending on your direction.

The first is located at Golden Acre Park by the Café, postcode LS16 9JY (Google Map link). It is free of charge and located only a short walk from the reserve.

The second is the at Golden Acre Park East, postcode LS16 8L2 (Google Map link). This is also free of charge and is located 0.6 miles from the nature reserve, around a 12 minute walk.


There are wheelchair and pushchair friendly paths from the car park to the nature reserve, and to the Marsh Hide. However paths within Adel Dam are more ‘natural’. Making them not particularly wheelchair or pushchair friendly.

How to Get To Adel Dam Nature Reserve

Google Map Directions


Horsforth Train Station – (2.8 miles) 8 min drive and around a 1 hour walk from here. You can also get the bus X84 for part of the journey.


The main bus stop for Adel Dam is the Leeds Road Parkway Hotel. Busses PH2, X84 and X85 go along Otley Road and stop around 0.3 miles, around a 6 minute walk from the location.

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