You can experience nature at its finest by visiting these local woodlands on your next outdoor adventure.
Outdoor spaces are our salvation during lockdown, and the good news is, Leeds has acres-upon-acres of glorious woodlands just waiting to be explored. From secret woods in the city’s parks to little known patches of beautiful greenery, they’re a great way to spend time outdoors. But remember, when it comes to this pandemic, we’re not out of the woods yet, so make sure you practise social distancing at all times.
Golden Acre Woods. Everyone knows about the park, but did you know that you’ll also find 170 acres of natural woodlands at Golden Acre? It’s a rich tapestry of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants with narrow but well-paved paths that lead you through. Adel Dam and Breary Marsh are just next door if you want more outdoor adventures.
Meanwood Valley Estate. Spread across 190 acres of lush parkland, the Meanwood Valley woods are small but perfectly formed. They’re super family-friendly with wide, easygoing paths throughout. Take a walk down to the river to see frogs and tadpoles on the water or raise your eyes to the skies to spot the birds high up in the trees.
Ling Close Wood. Planted during the Millennium by the Woodland Trust, Ling Close is one of the little known woodlands of Leeds. It lies on the outskirts of Ledston Luck and is made up of a mix of native broadleaf trees with a quaint pond hidden away in the middle. The paths are clearly laid out and easy to use, so this is one the whole family can enjoy.
Gledhow Valley Wood. This 1.5-kilometre ribbon of ancient woods in the heart of North Leeds is a must-visit. You can walk amongst the towering trees as you make your way along Gledhow Beck and around Gledhow Lake. At times, the paths become very narrow, which can make social distancing a challenge – you may need to hop up onto the hill to move out of the way, and yes, it’s steep.
Gipton Wood. Just around the corner from Gledhow Valley Wood, you’ll find the smaller, but just as pretty Gipton Wood. It’s small but perfectly formed with 20 acres of rich ancient woodland to explore and a compact network of paths that lead you under a canopy of oak, sycamore and beech. The paths are wide and easy to follow but be warned, those hills will get your calves working.
Hetchell Wood. A verdant nature reserve in East Leeds, Hecthell Wood is the perfect escape from the stresses of the modern world. Multi-stemmed hazel trees are surrounded by acres of beautiful wildflowers and swathes of open grassland. The paths will also lead you to a picturesque stream at the bottom end of the woods.
Chevin Forest Park. Rising 280 metres above sea level with stunning views, Chevin Forest Park is the ultimate woodland adventure. This designated nature reserve boasts a mix of ancient woodland, heathland and meadowland, with a winding network of paths and trails that will keep you busy all day. It’s pretty accessible, although the path to the ridge at the top is very steep.
Bramley Fall Woods. There are 80 acres of sprawling woodlands to explore in Bramley Fall Woods. You can ramble along the endless network of easygoing paths between the oak, birch and sycamore trees at your leisure. One of the best routes follows woodland paths on one side and the Leeds Liverpool Canal on the other for a picturesque waterside stroll.
Cookridge Woodlands. This wide open expanse of parkland in North West Leeds is surrounded by well-kept woodlands on three sides. It’s full of ancient trees and easy to navigate paths, which lead to three smaller woodlands in Ireland Wood, East Wood and Bedford Green Wood.
Roundhay Park. It might be one of the busiest parks in Leeds, but if you head away from the fields, there’s so much to discover in Roundhay. Bob into the woodlands, where you can follow a secret path around the stream that feeds the upper lake, take in the glorious beauty of the gorge walk or discover the immense woodland behind Waterloo Lake.
Woodhouse Ridge. Snaking along a clifftop between Woodhouse and Headingley, this strip of natural beauty is off the beaten track, which makes it perfect for exploration. There are loads of wide and clear pathways to navigate, which makes it very family-friendly. The paths lead you to a series of clearings where you can enjoy the views over East Leeds.
Calverley Wood. There have been woods in this beautiful part of East Leeds for over 700 years and there’s history in every corner of it. Follow the wide, well-paved paths between the ancient trees and you’ll stumble upon everything from an old prisoner of war camp to the steep Calverley Cutting road which has long been disused.
Rothwell Colliery. If you’re looking for quiet woodlands to explore in Leeds, this former coal mine is perfect. Oak, field maple, Scots pine and silver birch surround pretty ponds and public artworks. Take the sculpture trail or the pond trail to get different views of the woods and keep an eye out for rabbits, hedgehogs and deer.
Hollinhurst Wood. Full of oak, birch, wych elm, hazel, crab apple, guelder rose and field maple, these beautiful 27-acre woods double as a nature reserve. The paths are wide and easy to navigate as you walk towards a beautiful meadow covered in wild angelica and meadowsweet. Keep an eye out for the wood mice below and woodpeckers above.
Black Carr Woods. Straddling the boundaries of Leeds and Bradford, the small but picturesque Black Carr Woods is one of the best discoveries you can make. Take the flat, flagged paths deep into the woods, admire the colourful array of plants that encircle the trees and enjoy the beautiful countryside views.
Owl Wood and Pit Plantation. These two nature reserves sit side-by-side and promise eight hectares of oak, sycamore and silver birch trees to walk around. It’s perfect for a woodland wander and you’ll see plenty of seasonal highlights with bluebells and snowdrops in the spring and songbirds chirping in autumn.
Temple Newsam. There are over 30 distinct woods at Temple Newsam and they each have a different character. Follow the easy to access paths through each one to enjoy peace beneath the trees. While you’re here, you can visit the newest woodland, the deciduous Millennium Wood, which was only planted in 2000, and check out one of the largest rhododendron displays in England.
Middleton Woods. This is one of the largest ancient woodlands in Leeds, dating back over 500 years. It’s got a rich mix of trees, from hazel to elder, birch and sweet chestnut, all surrounded by an eclectic array of plants. While you’re here, you can enjoy wildlife spotting or hunt out the dips and swells of the bell pits from the former mine.
The Hollies. This is a magical sliver of Leeds offering a peaceful place to wander amidst a range of native and exotic trees. You’ll find loads of beautiful spots as you’re walking around, including swathes of colourful plants and shrubbery. It’s also part of the Meanwood Valley Trail so you can make a day of it if you have the time.
Adel Woods. Also known as Scotland Wood, this stretch of beautiful forestry is only small, but there’s plenty to seek out. As you wander amongst the trees, you can find the ruins of an old flax mill which burnt down in 1906, walk under the Seven Arches Aqueduct as it crosses Meanwood Beck and visit the small Slabbering Baby Fountain.
Scarcroft Plantation. At only 7 acres wide, Scarcroft Plantation is a lovely little escape from the world run by the Woodland Trust. The paths are quite uneven in places but if you want a much more manageable route that’s perfect for kids or less confident walkers, you can try the loop path, which takes you around the perimeter on a pleasant stroll.
How to enjoy the outdoors safely
The good news is, you can still enjoy the great outdoors in Tier 3 – you just need to take a few extra precautions.
- You can exercise or meet in public, outdoor spaces with people you live with, your support/childcare bubble or in groups of up to six people
- You should stay two metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times – where this is not possible, you should stay 1 metre apart and take extra precautions, like wearing a mask
- You shouldn't leave home if you or someone you live with has a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss of/change in your normal sense of smell or taste – please self-isolate.