Leeds-List - Leeds' ultimate magazine and guide

7 Countryside Spots You Can Get to in Half an Hour

· Ali Turner · Culture

When God's Own Country is on your doorstep, it would be rude not to.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

One of the best things about living in Leeds, is the fact that you can be in the countryside in a hop, skip and a jump. So why not make the most of these countryside spots?

As the weather starts to brighten up, it’s time to get out of the city and start exploring. Luckily for you, there are loads of countryside retreats within easy reach, so even if you don’t want to go far, you can still get back to nature for a few hours. And to make it easier, we’ve rounded up seven countryside spots that you can get to in about half an hour.

1. Otley Chevin Forest Park

Otley Chevin

Credit: Ali Turner

Just half an hour away from Leeds, Chevin Forest Park looks out over the picturesque market town of Otley. It’s made up of meadows, woodland and heath, with rocky outcrops to explore and a north-facing cliff that stands 280 metres above sea level, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside. This is the perfect place to embrace your adventurous side, whether you’re simply exploring or taking part in one of the activities on offer. There’s a bridleway for cycling and horse-riding, as well as various rock climbing and bouldering opportunities for those of you with a head for heights.

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

2. Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory

Copyright Chris Ibbotson licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

The Palladian house at the heart of Nostell Priory is impressive enough to take your breath away. Inside, it houses a priceless collection of art and furniture, but it’s the setting that will really blow you away. The house is surrounded by more than 300 acres of gardens and parkland that are just waiting to be explored. The landscape is typical of Yorkshire, from the colourful Kitchen Gardens to the wildflower meadows, sprawling Lower Lake and the historic Obelisk Park, there’s so much to see here that you certainly won’t begrudge the half hour drive.

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

3. Eccup Reservoir

Eccup Reservoir

Copyright Yarik.OK and licensed under creative commons for commercial use.

Despite being the largest area of water in West Yorkshire, Eccup Reservoir is something of an undiscovered gem. It’s been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, protecting it for generations to come, and is now home to a growing number of red kites, reintroduced in 1999. A walk around the reservoir will see you passing through forests, meandering through fields of wildflowers and passing through Eccup village, all the while looking down at the beautiful waters below. You can’t actually go down to the water from here, but the view alone is worth a visit.

Eccup Reservoir, Alwoodley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 7PL.

4. Harewood House

Harewood House, Leeds

Credit: Harewood House Trust

Harewood House has so much going for it. Just 20 minutes from Leeds, you can see a magnificent country home, a wonderful farm and a popular bird garden, but that only scratches the surface. The house is surrounded by 100 acres of gardens and parkland. There’s a massive lake, a waterfall and the recently restored Harewood Castle to seek out. Top tip – head up to The Terrace and take in the incredible views across the landscaped gardens and out to the rolling hills beyond the estate, it’s breathtaking. And while you’re here, why not check out their new Useful/Beautiful exhibition to see how craft fits into our modern lives?

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

5. Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

You can kill two birds with one stone at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s a unique art space, just 20 minutes away from Leeds, that sees impressive sculptures displayed amidst 500 acres of rolling countryside. Alongside the art, which includes permanent displays from local legends Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, as well as an exciting array of temporary exhibitions from the likes of Giuseppe Penone and Damien Hurst, there are a few surprises to be found on the grounds. Hunt out the Greek Temple and the Shell Grotto, both of which will give you a glimpse into the history of the Bretton Estate.

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

6. Hazlewood Castle

Hazlewood Castle

Hazlewood Castle is a must-do if you’re looking for a quick escape to the country as it’s only 30 minutes away. The beautiful Grade I listed building is now a hotel, but you don’t have stay overnight to enjoy the surroundings. They have 77 acres of sprawling woods and parkland for you to explore, and you can indulge your inner adrenaline junkie at Live for Today’s activity centre – try everything from axe throwing to bushcraft and paintballing.

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

7. Yeadon Tarn

Yeadon Tarn Days Out

Just under 30 minutes away from the centre of Leeds, Yeadon Tarn is a beautiful little slice of Leeds countryside. Not only does it have a picturesque lake with plenty of green space for picnics, but you can also get active here. It’s home to Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre, so you can get out on the water, trying everything from windsurfing to rafting, canoeing and kayaking. Or why not give one of their other activities a go, like climbing, archery and off-road biking?

Leeds Sailing & Activity Centre, Yeadon Tarn, Yeadon, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS19 7UR.