Leap Valley is a small nature reserve at the edge of North Bristol, near Downend. It forms part of a wildlife corridor linking the River Frome through to Emersons Green. Even though Leap Valley is in an urban area and surrounded by houses, this open space has everything! There’s a children’s play area, park, open fields, stream, pond and woodland. Loved by the locals and cared for by The Friends of Leap Valley and South Gloucestershire Council.
Leap Valley is split into 2 areas, as the valley is divided by the busy Badminton Road (A432), so please be aware and put dogs on their leads when approaching the road. If entering from Aintree Drive, there is a children’s play park, open space, and the wet meadow. In the summer, this area is buzzing with life and on sunny days lots of bees and butterflies can be seen feeding on the flowers in the meadow. Further down the small sloping valley is a small bridge that takes you and your pooch across the stream that runs throughout the nature reserve as well as a deep pond. This area is more wooded and leads to open fields.
If you walk south along the main path, you will soon reach the busy Badminton Road. Cross here carefully and go directly opposite where you will see the other entrance for the second area of Leap Valley. This area is very different, with a path that winds around the outskirts of the woodland, bordering on the nearby housing estate. The roads are quiet though and you can walk through the woods if you don’t wish to walk on the path.
A circular walk here will take you less than an hour.
The Leap is known to date from at least 1327. The Place Names of Gloucestershire indicates that Leap or ‘Lypeat’ meant leaping gate, leap, jumping place or steep declivity for deer. The LeapValley belongs to South Gloucestershire Council but has a long recorded history associated with Baugh Farm which is thought to date from 1571. The northern end of the Valley and ‘kick-about’ area would have been the part mentioned in the 1844 Land Usage Tithes as part of a pasture called Gosty Leaze. In 1924 it was a rick yard and in 1944 had 9 piggeries and sheds on it. The wetland was referred to as a Withybed suggesting that willow was grown there. There is some evidence that in the past there was a water mill with mill pond. Today, the valley is managed with the help of the Friends of Leap Valley for the benefit of wildlife and the community. A large variety of birds are recorded here each year and at least 10 species of butterfly are also recorded here annually. Mammals include the pictured Badger, Grey Squirrel, Red Fox and Pipistrelle Bat. There are about 17 different species of grass in the valley.’
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