Leeds is jam-packed with incredible walks, but which are the best? These 15 are at the very top of the list…
If you like the great outdoors, Leeds is your oyster – the natural world is right on your doorstep and going for a walk is the best way to see it. You can do easy, family-friendly walks around the city’s most beautiful parks or head out into the great outdoors for a challenging walk with views across Yorkshire, the choice is yours.
The Meanwood Valley Trail
This 7-mile trail is just minutes from the city centre, so you could start your next adventure sooner than you think. As you follow the route from Woodhouse Moor to Golden Acre Park, you’ll see the incredible views from Woodhouse Ridge and stumble upon a feat of Victorian engineering as the disused Seven Arches Aqueduct towers above you. The route passes through a series of nature reserves before you reach the end and it can be broken down into sections, so you can make it as easy or as challenging as you want.
The Meanwood Valley Trail starts from Woodhouse Moor Car Park, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, LS6 1BJ or Golden Acre Park, Off Arthington Road, Bramhope, Leeds, LS16 8BQ.
It might only be 2-miles long, but this circular route around Rawdon Billing is one of the best walks in Leeds. Don’t underestimate it – you’ll have to tackle challenging terrain and wide-open spaces that are exposed to all the elements. Kick things off at Jubilee Hall car park before you take the uphill paths that lead to Billing Dam, Larkfield Dam and Billing Hill. It’s the perfect if you’ve short on time, but still fancy a challenging escapade into the great outdoors.
The Rawdon Billing starts at Jubilee Hall, Layton Avenue, Rawdon, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS19 6QQ.
Fulneck Loop Circular
If you’re looking for easygoing walks in Leeds, this 5-mile route that straddles the Leeds and Bradford boundaries is perfect. You’ll make your way through the beauty of Pudsey Beck valley along well-kept bridleways that are easy enough for walkers of all abilities. It starts at Tong Hall, just over the border, before you head into Leeds along Keeper Lane and walk towards the historic Fulneck Moravian Settlement. Look out for all kinds of birds, insects and sea creatures in Pudsey Beck and Tyersal Beck, before you head back to the start through the beautiful Black Carr Woods.
The Fulneck Loop Circular starts at Keeper Lane, Tong, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD4 0RS.
Hawksworth Wood Circular
This pretty 6.7-mile walk around North West Leeds kicks off with a woodland wander through Hawksworth Wood by Kirkstall Abbey. You’ll soon join the path alongside the River Aire where you can enjoy the wildflower meadows and spot everything from woodpeckers to roe deer. Make your way to Newlay Bridge to join the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath towards Calverley Bridge. Then it’s time to pivot back towards the start through Hunger Hills, Haigh Wood and Oil Mill Beck.
The Hawksworth Wood Circular starts at Hawksworth Wood, Rein Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 4TA.
Eccup Reservoir is undoubtedly one of the best walks in the city with views across the water to absolutely die for. You’ll start this leisurely family-friendly stroll on Alwoodley Lane, before you wander in the shade of the trees past Goodrick Plantation and through Owlet Hall Farm. From here, you’ll step out into the awesome landscape of the reservoir. Work your way around the edge taking in the beautiful scenery as you go, maybe stopping for a picnic along the way, before making your way back to the start.
The Eccup Reservoir walk starts at Alwoodley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS17 7DJ.
The Dales Way Link
This is the daddy of all walks. The Dales Way Link is a 20-mile route that will take you a whole day to complete, so make sure you’re prepared. It starts on Woodhouse Moor and takes you all the way to Ilkley, with some incredible landmarks along the way. Explore Adel Woods, enjoy the views from Otley Chevin and take in the stunning natural landscape of The Cow and Calf, all in one day. And that just scratches the surface. Part of the route is easy, but you’ll have to dig deep to complete the whole route with a series of challenging hills and paths to contend with.
The Dales Way Link starts at Woodhouse Moor, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS2 3AP, or OS Reference SE 29004 35040.
Trans Pennine Trail
The Trans Pennine Trail is one of the most famous walks in the UK – but don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you do the whole 215 miles, just the Leeds to Wakefield section. This challenging 14-mile route between the Royal Armouries and Wakefield will take you past the historic Thwaite Mills Industrial Museum, the picturesque village of Methley and the stunning St Aidan’s Nature Park before you wind your way along the banks of the wildlife-rich Aire-Calder Navigation to finish up at the Stanley Ferry Marina.
The Trans Pennine Trail starts at Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LT.
The Lines Way
This was the working Garforth-Castleford railway line until 1969, but it’s now been transformed into one of best nature walks in Leeds. You’ll start in Allerton Bywater and take in three incredible nature reserves as you follow the 9-mile route – look out for the wild meadows of Letchmire Pastures, the eclectic fauna of Townclose Hills and the natural woodlands of Hollinhurst Wood. The kids can have a great time too, as they run through the old arches just like the trains used to and discover the beauty of Mother Nature in the surrounding areas.
The Lines Way starts at 1 Blands Crescent, Allerton Bywater, West Yorkshire, WF10 2AF.
Wyke Beck Valley Way
The best walk to see both Roundhay Park and Temple Newsam in one day is on the 6.1-mile Wyke Beck Valley Way. This North to South Leeds route starts at Roundhay Park, one of the biggest urban parks in Europe, before you make your way through some of Leeds’ greenest areas. You can enjoy the sheer beauty of Wykebeck Woods, Arthur’s Rein and Fearnville Fields, before you reach the end at Temple Newsam. Take your time and enjoy one of the great historic English estates, which combines history and nature with a farm you absolutely have to take the kids to.
The Wyke Beck Valley Way starts at Roundhay Park, Mansion Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS8 2HH.
Leeds Country Way
The biggest walk of all is the Leeds Country Way. It’s a staggering 62-mile route that surrounds the city, taking in some of the region’s biggest landmarks along the way. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be done in one day – it’s split into four parts and there’s something special to see on each one, whether it’s the views across Eccup Reservoir, the beautiful woodland of Barnbowl Wood, the ruins of Howley Hall or the historic Fulneck Moravian Settlement.
The Leeds Country Way starts at Golden Acre Park, Arthington Road, Bramhope, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 8BQ.
Ilkley Moor Circular
This 6.3-mile trail around the famous Ilkley Moor is one of the best walks in Leeds. You’ll start at West View Park and take the lane towards White Wells, an 18th-century spa and baths. It’s a fairly easy-going route as you ramble across the heather-covered moorland. You’ll come to impressive landmarks like Ilkley Crags, Twelve Apostles and Lower Lanshaw Drop as you head to the finish at the famous Cow and Calf rocks.
The Ilkley Moor Circular starts at West View Park, 3 College Drive, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 9TY.
St Aidan’s Reedbed Ramble
St Aidan’s Nature Reserve is a real hidden gem, out in the countryside and the Reedbed Ramble takes you around one of its main attractions – the 2.8-mile route shows off the incredibly rare reedbeds and this is one of the only places in the UK where you can check some out. You might get lucky and see the bitterns, bearded tits and marsh harriers that fly around here, as well as some of St Aidan’s most beautiful spots as you pass the stunning Lemonroyd Lake, Fleakingley Reservoir and Astley Lake. It’s perfect for families too and you can even bring the buggy.
The Reedbed Ramble starts at the Visitor’s Centre at St Aidan’s Nature Reserve, Astley Lane, Great Preston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS26 8AL.
The Thorner Moor Circular
It’s only 20 minutes from the centre of Leeds, but Thorner is a quintessential countryside village and the best way to see it is on this 8-mile route. Start from St Peter’s Church before you head over Thorner Moor where you can appreciate the sweeping views as pass the Bramham Park Estate. You’ll pass Stubbing Moor and Wothersome Lake on your way, before you wander around Hetchell Wood Nature Reserve and the mysterious Pompocali Earthworks.
The Thorner Moor circular starts at St Peter’s Church, Thorner, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS14 3ED.
Leeds Canal Walk
The Leeds Canal Walk gives you the best of both worlds – you can discover the city’s illustrious history while you enjoy the local scenery. It’s a long, but straightforward 13-mile route that starts at Royal Armouries and passes Granary Wharf, before you head west out of the city centre. En route, you can explore the flora and fauna at the Kirkstall Valley and Rodley Nature Reserve, get up close to the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey and enjoy the woodland trails of Bramley Fall Park and Calverley Woods, all before you reach the end in Shipley.
The Leeds Canal Walk starts at Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1LT.
The picturesque village of Beamsley is tucked away between Ilkley and Skipton. This moderate 7-mile route takes you around the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. You’ll enjoy both stunning countryside views and historical landmarks as you climb the paths up to the Beamsley Beacon which looks out across Wharfedale. You’ll then cross Kex Beck and walk over Beamsley Moor, but not before you check out the unusual architecture of the old Beamsley Hospital.
The Beamsley Beacon route starts at Langbar Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 0EX.Cover image credit David Botham.