Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months (read: year), no one in Yorkshire can possibly have failed to noticed that this year’s Tour de France Grand Départ is kicking off in Leeds. But of course, for anyone outside of the county or indeed outside of the country, Leeds is unlikely to be on your radar.
I’ve been a Leeds resident myself for almost three years now after having moved here to do a MA at the University of Leeds in 2011. My sister has been a Leeds local for twice that; making my decision to move here a pretty simple one. It would have seemed unfathomable, however, to my three-years-ago-self that I would still be here now. Compared to Seoul, my former home (of three out of the four years prior), this city is small and, sometimes, it sleeps at night.
Leeds is often written-off as just another grim Northern city. And certainly, it can be a bit “rough around the edges” and you might get your post-Saturday night out takeaway knocked out of your hands by a passing ruckus, but Leeds has its own unique charm and a lot on offer. It also has a surprising amount of green spaces. In honour of the spotlight being on Leeds this weekend, it seemed the perfect opportunity to show off what Leeds does have on offer with my personal picks of some of the best things to do outdoors in Leeds (all unintentionally in North Leeds!).
Roundhay Park & Tropical WorldRoundhay Park is one of Leeds’ best known parks and for good reason. Covering more than 2.8 square kilometres, it is one of the biggest city parks in Europe. The park boasts two lakes, woodland, plentiful green open spaces, and an impressive mansion house. Located in Roundhay Park, you can also find Tropical World. Very reasonably priced compared to similar attractions elsewhere at only £3.40 for an adult ticket, Tropical World is home to meerkats, birds, butterflies, reptiles, and much more.
The details: Roundhay Park is located in North-East Leeds. Catch buses 2 and 12 from Leeds city centre. For more information visit the Roundhay Park Leeds website.
Golden Acre Park & Adel DamAnother beautiful and surprisingly large park on the outskirts of Leeds is Golden Acre Park. Well-kept paths snake around the park which features a lake, ornate gardens, and a cherry tree orchard.
Behind the park, you can enter Adel Dam Nature Reserve. The Nature Reserve has various bird watching sheds, including one situated over another smaller lake.
Details: Golden Acre Park is located in North Leeds, between Adel and Bramhope. Catch buses 780, 784 and X84 from Leeds City Centre. For more information visit the Leeds City Council Website.
Hetchell Woods A tranquil stretch of woodland, Hetchell Woods is a nature reserve featuring rare species, craggy rock faces, and wonderful views over the undulating farmlands around. A network of paths runs in and around the woods, along a babbling stream and out into the surrounding fields. The area is relatively small but makes for a lovely country walk.
Details: North East of Leeds. Best accessed car but buses 98, 98A, 99 and X98 can be taken to nearby Bardsey, around a mile away. For more information visit the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Website.
An imposing country house located in the village of Harewood seven miles from central Leeds, there is much more to Harewood than simply the house. A bird garden, lake, wildflower gardens and tea rooms are just a handful of treats waiting here. The Himalayan Garden is a hidden gem replete with stupa and prayer flags. The house and gardens are encircled by gorgeous rolling pastureland. A visit is a bit on the pricey side, with an adult ticket being £14 including the house and £10 for only the grounds, but if you take the bus to Harewood then you can benefit from a 50% reduction.
Details: Harewood, North of Leeds. Bus 36 runs from Leeds city centre through Chapel Allerton, can also be caught if you are coming from Harrogate – or want to continue on to there after (highly recommended!) For more information visit the Harewood House website.
Do you like getting out and about in your own city? What gems have you discovered?