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

7 Countryside Spots You Can Get to in Half an Hour

· Ali Turner · Culture

The great outdoors awaits!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

When you live in Leeds, you never have to go far to enjoy the Yorkshire countryside…

Plotting a day out? Want to explore the countryside without travelling too far? We’ve got just the thing! Seven countryside adventures within half an hour of Leeds. You could wander through woodlands, meander through deer parks and even take in a spot of modern art while surrounded by rolling fields and sparkling lakes. The only question is – what will you do first? Time for a spot of exploring!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton Hall

Credit: Jonty Wilde

Rolling fields? Check. Roaming cattle? Check. Contemporary art and sculptures aplenty? Check and double check. Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an outdoor art gallery surrounded by glorious Yorkshire countryside – and it’s just 30 minutes from Leeds. There are 500 acres of grounds to explore here – you can wander through the gardens, delve deep into the hidden forest and follow the trail around the lake, before passing back through the country park where the livestock grazes. And along the way, you’ll see major works by Moore, Hepworth and Weiwei.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4LG.

Otley Chevin Forest Park

Otley Chevin

This is a doozy of a day out. Otley Chevin Forest Park promises a maze of criss crossing trails through a woodland of sycamore, red oak and Corsican pine (actually, they have over 100 varieties of tree for you to look out for). Spread across 455 acres, it’s enough to keep you going for a day, but as soon as you break out of the trees, you’ll realise that the Chevin is just the start because the view is exceptional. All around you, in every direction, lies miles of stunning English countryside, and there’s nowhere better to see it from than the Surprise View.

Otley Chevin Forest Park, Johnny Lane, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 3JL.

St Aidan’s Nature Reserve

St Aidan's Nature Park Days Out

A little slice of nature within easy reach of the city, St Aidan’s is a must-visit. It was once an open-cast mine, but with a little help, it’s been reclaimed by nature and now offers a unique habitat to a wealth of wildlife. The reserve itself covers a massive 400 hectares with 60 hectares of reed beds and 12 kilometres of trails for you to explore. There’s something for everyone here, from smooth buggy-friendly paths to calf-burning hillside hikes – all offer stunning views and the opportunity to spot bitterns, skylarks, marsh harriers and more. Who’s in?

St Aidan’s Nature Reserve, Astley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 8AL.

Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory

It may be famous because of the house, but Nostell Priory is also your gateway to the Yorkshire countryside. This Georgian treasure house is surrounded by 300 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland. Roses give way to vegetables as you wander the grounds and pass through a gothic archway to the Menagerie Garden where a wealth of flora and fauna awaits. But it’s beyond this, in the wildflower meadows and lush woodlands, with their majestic chestnuts and oaks, that you’ll get a true glimpse of the Yorkshire countryside.

Nostell Priory, Doncaster Road, Nostell, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 1QE.

Almscliff Crag

Almscliffe Crag

Something a little different for you here. Almscliff Crag is just 30 minutes from Leeds and well worth a visit. It’s a gritstone crag that’s eroded over the centuries to create the natural wonder that we see today. The views from here are spectacular and best enjoyed by climbers – that is, after all, what makes Almscliff Crag so popular. It has a whopping 655 climbing and bouldering routes for you to conquer – enough to keep you busy for a lifetime. Prefer to keep your feet on solid ground? There are plenty of walks from nearby Huby.

Almscliff Crag, Crag Lane, Huby, North Yorkshire, LS17 0ER.

Harewood House

Humboldt Penguin

Credit: Harewood House Trust

Harewood House is blessed with over 100 acres of grounds and gardens, so if you want to lose yourself in rolling countryside, there’s nowhere better to do it. You won’t have to go far – the courtyard leads out into the bird garden, which in turn, takes you on to the gardens that include everything from edible treats to Himalayan-inspired hideaways. This alone will keep you busy for a day, but they also have a deer park, which covers 4,000 acres of land and provides a verdant home to around 245 red, fallow and roe deer. Keep a look out as you explore.

Harewood House, Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 9LG.

Hazlewood Castle

Hazlewood Castle

This luxury hotel is nestled amidst 77 acres of stunning woodland and it’s free to explore, although don’t be surprised if you’re tempted by the tasty morsels in their Vavasour Restaurant – there’s no better way to reward yourself after a day of romping through the woods. The 1.6-mile route is as good for walking as it is for mountain biking – you’ll cross lawns, pass through pretty woodlands and wander around ponds as you take in the scenery and spot wildlife on the 1.6-mile trail. Bikes are available for hire at reception, if you want to explore on two wheels.

Hazlewood Castle, Paradise Lane, Tadcaster, West Yorkshire, LS24 9NJ.