Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

11 Summer Days Out You Need to Tick Off STAT

· Ali Turner · Culture

Make the most summer before it's gone.

White Wells Bath House, Ilkley Moor

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From medieval castles to incredible rock formations and leisurely canal cruises, it’s time to start exploring!

Yorkshire was made for summer days out. You can head into the countryside and lose yourself amidst the fields and the forests or check out one of the many attractions that sit a mere bus ride away. Swim surrounded by beautiful vistas, shop in a beautifully restored cloth hall or picnic in the shadow of an old Cistercian abbey, with so much to do, you’ll be crossing your fingers for an Indian summer – and so will we!

An afternoon of rambling around Cow & Calf

Cow and Calf

Cow & Calf is a sight to behold. Nestled high on Ilkley Moor, this famous rock formation has an outcrop and a bolder, a cow and a calf. As the story goes, the calf was separated from the cow when the giant Rombald stamped on the rock as he fled from his wife – although quite what he did to earn her wrath, we’ll never know!

There may not be any giants here anymore, but it’s still a great day out. You can wander, scramble and even climb the rocks before setting off on the hour-long heritage walk around Ilkley Moor, stopping at Backstone Beck, Gill Head and the Crocodile Rock along the way. Of course, no visit would be complete without a trip to the other Cow & Calf – the pub just across the road does a roaring trade in local ale and hearty comfort food.

Cow & Calf, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 8BT. Catch the X84 bus from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A day of discovery at The Piece Hall

The Piece Hall

Credit: Paul White

Built in 1779, The Piece Hall is the last of the great eighteenth-century northern cloth halls. The Grade II-listed building has been beautifully restored and repurposed as a modern meeting place where you can eat, shop and learn about the region’s history, which means it’s more than just a landmark, it’s a fantastic day out too.

Their heritage tours will lead you on a merry chase through the grand colonnades, which now hide enough independent boutiques and quirky eateries to keep you busy for hours. Nip into Loafers to rifle through racks of second-hand vinyl, pop into Spogs & Spice to stock up on your favourite old school sweets and finish at Blondin’s Ice Cream Parlour where you can fill your belly with proper Italian gelato. Don’t miss their packed calendar of summer events in the courtyard, including street food favourite Chow Down.

The Piece Hall, Blackledge, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX1 1RE. Catch the 508 bus from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A fun-filled boat-ride down the canal

Pennine Cruisers of Skipton

Picture this. You’re on a narrowboat, sailing down the canal surrounded by beautiful countryside – and yes, you’re the one doing the sailing. That’s the adventure that awaits at Pennine Cruisers of Skipton. You can hire out one of their oh-so-quaint canal boats for a day of fun on the water, so grab the tiller and prepare to navigate a 17-mile stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, slipping through swing bridges and making 180° turns to head back to base.

The fun isn’t just restricted to the boat though. Along the way, you can stop to explore the local countryside, which includes Farnhill Woods and more country pubs than you can shake a stick at. Of course, if you’d rather stay on board, you can cook yourself up a feast in the on-board kitchen and eat on the deck as you look out over the water. Whatever you choose, it’s an idyllic day out.

Pennine Cruisers of Skipton, 19 Coach Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1LH. Catch the X84 bus from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A smorgasbord of historic ruins and scrumptious eats

Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire

Credit: Ollievision

Kirkstall Abbey is one of the most complete Cistercian monasteries in Britain. It was founded in 1152 and stood as a magnificent example of Anglo-Norman architecture until the dissolution of the abbey in 1539, when the monks were driven out and the abbey fell into disrepair. Now in ruins, it’s still as impressive as ever, and as you wander through its hallowed halls, it’s easy to imagine what it would have looked like 800 years ago.

But the abbey itself isn’t the only attraction. It’s surrounded by 24 hectares of parkland, with oodles of space for picnics and a scenic trail to follow along the waterfront, so you can make a real day of it. If you time it right, you can even spend the morning picking up fresh local delicacies at Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market, which takes place on the last weekend of the month.

Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH. Catch the 33, 34, 50 or 50A bus from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A pub-hopping ramble through Roundhay Park

Roundhay Park

© Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Ali Turner

At 700 acres, Roundhay Park is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. It’s over twice the size of London’s Hyde Park and has a lot more to offer – you can roam through woods, stroll along the beck and circle one of two beautiful lakes, filled with wildlife. But that’s not all. Roundhay Park has two adventure playgrounds, alongside free-to-use football pitches, tennis courts and cricket grounds. Add Tropical World, our own little mini zoo filled with exotic creatures, and you’ve got a whole day of fun.

If you’d rather walk from pub to pub, you can do that too. Oakwood is full of worthy boozers – settle down in Preston’s petite bar to work your way through a wondrous selection of craft beer or nip down the road to the Stew and Oyster for local real ales on tap. Want something a little more traditional? The White House has mastered that proper pub feel and they serve a cracking Sunday roast too.

Roundhay Park, Mansion Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2HH. Catch the 12 bus from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A sunny day of swimming at Ilkley Lido

Ilkley Lido

Credit: Bradford Council

If there’s one thing you have to do this summer, it’s pay a visit to Ilkley Lido. This splash-tastic outdoor pool has a lot going for it. Not only can you swim around to your heart’s content, but you can do it surrounded by stunning scenery as the sun warms your skin. It sits at the base of Ilkley Moor with the hills rising up behind it so you won’t find a more scenic place to relax than beside the pool.

Don’t worry about the weather forecast – if the heavens open, you can retire inside to do your laps in their indoor pool, but if they don’t, head outside and make the most of all the other activities on offer. They have tennis courts, a putting green and even a bowls court, alongside a picnic area and cafe, so the fun doesn’t have to end just because your fingers are so puckered that you can’t swim anymore.

Ilkley Lido, Denton Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 0BZ. Catch the X84 bus from Leeds City Centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A leisurely meander along the Meanwood Valley Trail

Golden Acre Park

© Copyright Leeds-List 2018 by Suzy Rodden

A green artery that runs through Leeds bringing a little slice of the countryside to your everyday, the Meanwood Valley Trail is a must in the summer months. It’s a 7-mile linear route from Woodhouse Moor to Golden Acre Park that passes through forests and open countryside. You can do it all in one day or split the route into manageable sections and jump on the bus home after.

You’ll start at the H.R. Marsden statue on the corner of Woodhouse Lane and Raglan Road, before making your way up through Woodhouse Ridge, Meanwood Park and The Hollies. Along the way, you’ll pass the site of the former Meanwood Tannery built in 1857 by the brewer Sam Smith and the remnants of the old mill works. From here, continue through Scotland Wood and up to Adel Woods, then follow the beck on to Golden Acre Park and Breary Marsh.

71 Raglan Rd, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9DZ. Catch the 1, 6, 28, 56, 97 or X84 from Leeds City Centre, then jump on the X84 back from Golden Acre Park. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A big adventure at Otley Chevin Forest Park

Otley Chevin Surprise View

© Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Contakt Photography

On a sunny summer day, there’s no better place to go than Otley Chevin Forest Park. It’s a natural playground where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city in favour of lush greenery and unexpected adventures. You’ll find a network of walks and trails here, including their famous heritage trail, a 2-kilometre route with 8 timber sculptures that reflect different times in The Chevin’s history.

But walking is just one of the activities you can do here. There are two orienteering courses at The Chevin, one of which is designed for beginners so even first-timers can have a go, and seven geocaches to hunt out. Alternatively, you can try your hand at bouldering – Caley’s roadside boulders offer problems for every level, while across the road, the Crag promises a more traditional climbing experience. Before you go, make sure you stop by the Surprise View. Otley Chevin is 280 metres above sea level and from this vantage point, you can see Yorkshire stretch out before you for miles and miles.

Otley Chevin Forest Park, Leeds Road, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 3JL. Catch the X84 from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A tantalising glimpse of the Leeds Country Way

Leeds Country Way

Credit: Tim Green licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Leeds Country Way is a 62-mile circular route around the city. It’s a huge challenge and a huge accomplishment to complete it all, but you can’t do it in a day. Instead, the route has been broken down into handy sections that you can tick off one by one, starting with the first part from Golden Acre Park to Barwick-in-Elmet.

It’s a 14-mile trek along woodland paths, bridleways and open fields, but if that feels like a little too much, you can break it down into 5-mile sections. Along the route, you’ll pass some of the city’s most cherished attractions. You can see Emmerdale Village and Harewood House in the distance as you make your way towards one of the highlights of the walk – The Bingley Arms, otherwise known as the oldest pub in England. Grab a cheeky pint before you continue on your way.

Golden Acre Park, Otley Road, Bramhope, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 8BQ. Catch the X84 or X85 from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A trip to a medieval castle and a couple of old school boozers

Skipton Castle was built in 1090 by Norman Baron Robert de Romille in an effort to stop the Scots from raiding northern England. Little did he know that years later, as Civil War ravaged the country, it would become the last Royalist bastion in the North, securing its place in history and setting the scene for what is now one of the most popular attractions in the region. So if you haven’t been yet, now’s the time to go.

You can explore all the nooks and crannies of the castle, from the kitchens to the watchtowers. Afterwards, head out for a stroll around Skipton Castle Woods or make your meanderings a little more interesting with a mini pub crawl. Start at The Castle Inn, a cracking little boozer with a big outdoor area where you can enjoy the summer sun over a pint, before you move on to The Black Horse where you can sit on the terrace, overlooking the canal. After a quick beer flight in The Red Lion, you’ll be ready to jump on the bus home.

Skipton Castle, The Bailey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 1AW. Catch the X84 bus from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

A walking photographer tour of Ilkley Moor

Ilkley Moor

We’re blessed to have the wonders of the Yorkshire countryside right on our doorstep, so it stands to reason that you’d want to perfect your photography skills to capture the perfect snap of it – and what better way to do it than on a Walking Photography Tour? You can head out to Ilkley Moor to scramble over hill and dale in search of picture-worthy vistas, learning as you go.

Every tour comes with a practical introduction to photography before your experienced guide takes you on a leisurely ramble past dramatic landscapes, geological landmarks and diverse array of wildlife. You’ll get professional tips and advice while you walk to help you take your photos to the next level, and of course, you can enjoy the stunning surroundings too. All in all, the walk lasts 4 hours and costs just £35.

Walking Photography Tours, Cow & Calf meeting point, Hangingstone Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 8BT. Catch the X84 bus from Leeds city centre. Get your free First Bus day pass…

Head out on your next adventure with a FREE First Bus day pass

First Bus

Credit: Richard Walker

Seen something you like? Plotting your next adventure? You’re in luck because you can get a FREE First Bus day pass worth £4.30. Just sign up for our exclusive offer, get your code and download the app. Not only can you travel free by scanning your ticket on the bus, but you can also plan your trip and find your next bus!