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10 Things You Never Knew You Could Do in Leeds

· Ali Turner · Culture

Even if you've lived here for years, you might not know you can do all of this.

The Bear Pit, Headingley

Just when you think you know the city like the back of your hand, you discover something new to do…

Are you ready to be amazed? From perfectly placed vineyards where you can pick up a bottle of local wine to secret gardens, hidden art galleries and record shops hidden in sheds – you never know what surprises await in Leeds. Which one will you do first?

Buy wine straight from the vineyard

Leventhorpe Vineyard

Yorkshire isn’t exactly famed for its vineyards, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have them. In fact, Leventhorpe Vineyard is one of the city’s best-kept secrets – they make a small but delicious selection of wine, using grapes grown on their 5-acre plot, and you can buy them at the vineyard itself.

Leventhorpe Vineyard, Newsome Green Road, Off Bullerthorpe Lane, Woodlesford, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 8AF.

Indulge in afternoon tea from a shed by the river

The Tiny Tea Room

Take a little walk down the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal in Rodley, and you’ll come across an odd looking brick shed. It turns out it’s actually one of the quaintest tearooms you’ll find. Have a pew on one of their outdoor tables and settle in for a great brew and a slice of cake, before carrying on your riverside ramble through the suburb.

The Tiny Tea Room, 18 Calverley Bridge, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS13 1NF.

See original manuscripts and handwritten notes by the Brontë sisters

Treasures of Brotherton Gallery, Leeds

You’d probably expect all of the Brontë’s manuscripts and materials to be in their museum, over in Haworth, but actually, you’ll find some of them a little closer to home. The Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery is filled with unusual finds, including a small handwritten book of poems and letters by the Brontë sisters.

Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, University of Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT.

Brew your own craft beer

Beer

Ever wanted to brew your own beer? Now you can learn how with a one day course at Get Cooking. Andy and Steve from Leeds-based Learn to Brew will show you everything you need to know. You’ll learn methods used by the best microbreweries that you can do in your kitchen, using just water, malt, hops and yeast – you’ll make a beer to take home, before trying it out on your own.

Get Cooking, Springfield Commercial Centre, 43a Bagley Lane, Farsley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS28 5LY.

Go to an art gallery in someone’s basement

Basement Arts Project

Credit: Bruce Davis

It’s not just big galleries in Leeds – you can get your next cultural hit in some very unexpected places including, it seems, someone’s basement. Basement Arts Project is an unconventional art space, tucked away in a pre-war, mid-terrace house in South Leeds, and it offers an eclectic range of events and exhibitions throughout the year.

Basement Arts Project, 26 Burton Terrace, Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5JH.

Visit a Victorian bear pit

Bear pit, Hyde Park,. The Odd, The Strange and The Downright Bizarre of Leeds

It may not be in use anymore, but you’ll find the remains of an old Victorian bear pit on Cardigan Road. The building, which looks like a mini castle, was once part of Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens. They opened in 1840 but closed soon after in 1858, and for a brief while, they were home to a brown bear, monkeys and an eagle.

The Bear Pit, Cardigan Road, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 1LU.

Take a wander around someone else’s garden

The Orchard Garden

Credit: The National Gardens Scheme

Ever wanted to have your own secret garden? Well, we have the next best thing, because you can visit someone else’s. It’s all thanks to the National Gardens Scheme, an organisation that allows you to book a visit to three incredible leafy locations. You can see 3,000 different plants at Millrace Garden, explore a mini forest of unusual fruit trees at The Orchard or step into a secluded hideaway at Creskeld Hall.

The Orchard, 4a Blackwood Rise, Cookridge, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 7BG, Creskeld Hall, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS21 1NT and Millrace Garden, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS25 1LP.

Pick up gems at the smallest department store in the world

Rivers MEET Cafe

RiversMEET is a one-off. It claims to be the smallest department store in the world, selling wares of local producers like Yorkshire Fabric, The Yorkshire Bag Company and The Beadshop. But that’s not all – after you’ve had a wee shop, they’ve got a cafe too, where you can get a sarnie, a slice of cake and a brew, all in a scenic countryside spot by the River Aire.

RiversMEET, 102 Leeds Road, Methley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 9EP.

Get crafty over a cuppa

Workshop Sewing Cafe

Workshop is a cafe with a difference. You can grab a quality brew and tuck into delicious cakes here, but that’s just the beginning. You see, this is a sewing cafe, so they have six machines, two overlockers and an iron alongside the usual tea and coffee. If you’re experienced, you can just book out the equipment you need, but if you’re new to sewing, you can learn the ropes at one of their regular classes and meet-ups.

Workshop Sewing Cafe, 24 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AD.

Go record shopping in a suburban shed

Vinyl Records

Shedload of Vinyl isn’t your normal record shop. Owner Mick Carter invites you to come and have a browse of his stock that’s stored in his specially converted shed at the back of his house. It’s open on most weekends, so plan a visit to delve through the racks of retro LPs. We’re talking everything from classic rock to hip-hop, punk and soul gems.

Shedload of Vinyl, 5 Wells Road, Guiseley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS20 9AE.

Cover image © Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Ali Turner.