When living in a city, it can sometimes feel like you have to travel far to really get away from the hustle and bustle. But more often than not the peace and quiet of the countryside is closer than you may think. In Leeds, there are plenty of places to go for a bit of a rural retreat without really having to leave the city behind. That is if you know where to look. So here are 4 of my favourite countryside spots, that are hidden right here in the city and suburbs.
Otley Chevin Forest Park
Otley Chevin Forest Park is a wonderful woodland retreat just 1o miles north-west of the city centre. Designated as a local nature reserve back in the 1980’s, the forest is made up of lots of smaller woods that have grown together over time. With several dirt paths that run through the whole park, it is an ideal place for walking and exploring in the sunshine. But the best thing about Otley Chevin is its surprise view (yes it’s actually called that). As the park is sat on top of an escarpment 280m above sea level, this spot at the edge of the forest offers a fantastic view across the Wharfe valley and the town of Otley below. Plus there’s also a few good pubs and cafes around for a quick or leisurely pit stop along the way.
Leeds Liverpool Canal
Made up of 127 miles of water and connecting two Northern major cities, the Leeds Liverpool Canal is not exactly a hidden country spot. However, the quaint pathways that sit alongside the canal as it winds its way through Leeds are perhaps less well known. The canal begins right in the heart of the city at Granary Wharf. From here you’ll also find the start of the walking trail, and the gateway to a peaceful underworld that leads you north-west through Leeds’ suburbs. As the metropolitan sights of the city fade away, you are greeted by weathered canal locks, greenery and old railway arches and bridges alike as you walk by the water. Along the way, you’ll find many peaceful spots that will make you forget Leeds is still so close by. With the route bypassing the impressive Kirkstall Abbey and Bramley Fall Park, as well as the pretty little Yorkshire towns and villages beyond.
Meanwood Valley Trail
Hidden in Leeds, the Meanwood Valley Trail is the perfect way to escape to the countryside for an afternoon whilst truly staying in the city. In total the trail is 7 miles long, starting quite central in Woodhouse Moor. From there its path winds through peaceful woodland dipping in and out of suburban streets and parks as it takes you north out of the city, ending at Golden Acre Park. Along the route, there are lots of interesting and historical sights to look out for, from the Woodhouse Ridge to The Hollies gardens to the ruins of the Seven Arches aqueduct. And as the trail is split into 3 distinct parts you can explore as much or little as you like, from a whole day to just a few hours.
Still relatively undiscovered to most, Eccup Reservoir sits burrowed away in the suburban area of Alwoodley. As the largest body of water in West Yorkshire, the reservoir is lined with pebbled shores and woodland, and is both a wonderful sight as well as a unique gem of the local area. Along the water’s edge, concealed within the trees are plenty of paths that are only disturbed by dog walkers and joggers. So its the perfect place for peaceful strolls and bike rides, or just a spot to relax and escape the city for a few hours.