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A 12th-century Abbey, a Nature Reserve and a Flagship Brewery Pub – The Best Bits of Kirkstall

· Emma Cooke · Culture

It’s time to check out the very best Kirkstall has to offer.

Kirkstall Abbey

Full of historical landmarks, independent eateries and quality pubs, Kirkstall is a must-visit.

Kirkstall feels like it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle the city centre. In this leafy suburb, you can roam the ruins of what was once a show-stopping 12th-century abbey, explore the great outdoors at the local nature reserve or settle down for a pint next to the River Aire. But that only scratches the surface, so why pay a visit and check it out for yourself?

Abbey House Museum

Abbey House Museum

Credit: Daria Wszolek

You’ll find Abbey House Museum in the Grade-II listed gatehouse to Kirkstall Abbey. It will take you right back to the 19th century, as it’s filled with Victorian artefacts and even has a like-for-like replica of a high-street from the period. You can take a seat in the ale house, nosy into people’s houses or even check out the dreaded dentist. They also host regular events where costumed actors will roam the building.

Abbey House Museum, Abbey Walk, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.

The Bridge Inn

Kirkstall Bridge Inn

© Copyright Leeds-List 2018 by Katie Nicole

The Bridge Inn is Kirkstall Brewery’s flagship pub. You can get plenty of their locally-made brews like Kirkstall Pale and Dissolution IPA, which you can enjoy in their beer garden which sits in a scenic spot right next to the River Aire. If you’re hungry, they serve classic pub grub done as well as a proper slap-up Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Got a pooch? They love them too, and you can sit in their downstairs bar.

The Bridge Inn, 12 Bridge Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3BW.

Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire

Credit: Ollievision

Built in 1152, Kirkstall Abbey was once one of the most important Cistercian abbeys in the country. This was until Henry the VIII tore down Catholicism, which took much of the architecture along with it. The ruins stand on 24 hectares of land, which makes it a popular place to explore the great outdoors. You can even catch the monthly markets with crafts and local produce.

Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey Road Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3EH.

Dos Amigos

Dos Amigos Leeds

This family-run restaurant specialises in authentic Spanish and Italian dishes. You can order a feast from their tapas menu, which includes Pan Fried Chorizo Rosario in red wine and Calamari served with aioli. Prefer something heartier? Go for one of their classic Italian mains like Homemade Lasagna and Pizza Diavola, all in a cosy setting.

Dos Amigos, 68-70 Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3JG.

Gallery Fortyone

Gallery Forty One

The award-winning Gallery Fortyone is a Mediterranean bistro with an eclectic menu. You can tuck into an array of pizza and pasta dishes as well as an extensive menu of mains. Choose from Pollo al Champagne or Grigliata di Pesce, a mixed grill of sea bass, salmon and king prawns. If you just fancy a drink, you can just head to the bar to make the most of their extensive wine selection.

Gallery Fortyone, 41-43 Commercial Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3AW.

Butler’s Coffee

Butler's, Kirkstall Forge

Credit: Space Invaders

You can find modern-style cafe Butler’s Coffee at the recently regenerated Kirkstall Forge. It draws in workers from nearby offices and it makes a great stop for those who pass through the station. You can pick up a morning pastry and a pot of tea from as early as 8am or dive into a fresh salad or sandwich for lunch. The interior is clean-cut with breakfast bars and plenty of armchairs that sit next to low-down coffee tables.

Butler’s Coffee, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3BF.

Vesper Gate

Vesper Gate

Vesper Gate has everything you need from a local pub. They serve ales like Black Sheep and Doom Bar, which you can enjoy watching live sport in an old-school pub environment. Think checked-fabric chairs and wooden beams, complete with a huge beer garden. Feeling peckish? Dive into their menu of pub classics like Wiltshire Ham, Chicken and Leek Pie or Fish and Chips.

Vesper Gate, Abbey Road, Leeds, LS5, West Yorkshire, LS5 3NG.

Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve

Kirkstall Valley, Caroline Thorogood

Credit: Caroline Thorogood

You can explore a range of habitats across the 10 hectares of land that makes up Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve. It covers woodland, wetland and grassland, which means there’s plenty of diverse wildlife to be spotted. You might even get lucky and spot a rarely-seen otter or kingfisher as you head along one of their walking trails.

Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve, Redcote Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2AL.

Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park

Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park

Credit: Now Media

Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park is a complex found just off Bridge Road. It houses 17 different lifestyle and food outlets as well as a PureGym. You can wander around big name shops like M&S, Outfit and Trespass then stop off for a coffee and a slice of cake at Costa. Don’t worry about parking either, it’s free with room for 356 cars.

Kirkstall Bridge Shopping Park, Bridge Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3BL.

The New Burley Club

New Burley Club

The New Burley Club is a private club kitted out with a range of facilities to use at your leisure for just £5 a year. You can take advantage of the pool and two snooker tables in the Sports Lounge or head down in the evening to catch one of their shows in the Concert Room. Behind the bar you’ll find a wide range of reasonably priced ales from Bass breweries.

The New Burley Club, Burley Hill Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS4 2SZ.

Kirkstall Fisheries

Kirkstall Fisheries

You can’t beat a good fish and chip supper when you don’t want to cook and Kirkstall Fisheries is the go-to in this part of Leeds. Tucked away down Morris Lane, it’s one of the area’s gems when it comes to a good feed. You can snaffle a classic Haddock and Chips for £5.80 and if you’ve got little ones they also do a Kids Box for £3. Not to mention the extra trimmings like scallops, pies and breadcake.

Kirkstall Fisheries, 6 Morris Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3JT.

Aquarius Antiques

Aquarius Antiques Leeds

Aquarius Antiques is a jam-packed treasure trove of high-quality vintage gems and has been since 1981. The place is absolutely massive and is ripe for digging as you work your way through trinkets and furniture that span over 200 years. You can pick up everything from 60s-style chairs to vintage dressers and each one goes through their in-house restoration workshop before they’re sold so you know they’re in good nick.

Aquarius Antiques, Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3HP.

The West End House

West End House

The West End House is one of the best local boozers in Kirkstall. You can choose from an impressive selection of ales like Hobgoblin and Blue Moon. If you fancy a feed, take a look at their hefty menu. They do everything from Steak, Ale and Mushroom Pie to Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder. It’s a cosy venue with a traditional decor and if the weather is in your favour, they even have a beer garden.

The West End House, 26 Abbey Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS5 3HS.

The Queenswood Social

Queenswood Social Club

Credit: Mtaylor848 licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

This family social club is a hotbed of entertainment, with frequent shows and activities held throughout the week. Saturday and Sunday nights are when The Queenswood Social really comes alive, with tribute acts and talent shows in their huge function room. For a quieter night, you can pop along to the bingo, which takes place every night from Thursday to Sunday.

The Queenswood Social, 77 Queenswood Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3LJ.

Cover image credit: © Copyright Leeds-List 2019 by Daria Wszolek