Mumbler’s Favourite Circular Walks for Families in and around North Leeds
A circular walk is the perfect walk when coping with little legs, there is no going back on yourself or having to traipse back to the car! These are Mumbler’s favourite circular walks for families in and around North Leeds.
Bramley Fall Woods
Car Parking: Small car park and roadside parking (free) available on Leeds and Bradford Road
Amenities: Picnic spots, playground and trim trail but no toilets
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 2km, would recommend carriers for crossing over locks
The circular walk through Bramley Falls Wood and down the canal is one of my kids favourite walks. It combines all of their favourite things of rolling down hills, hide and seek in the woods, dens and they love crossing the canal at the lock (although we still haven’t managed to see them in action yet).
You can do this walk either way although we normally go down through the woodland first (it is quite steep and uneven in places on way down) and have fun running up the various hills. There is a fairly flat track through the woodland if you don’t want to go off the beaten track. You then walk with the canal to your right until you cross over the first lock and then head down the canal path (lovely and flat for little legs) in the opposite direction. You then come to another lock where you cross over, head up the steps and follow the path back to the car park area.
Car Parking: Field car park. You usually pay for entry to Lotherton (currently suspended in lockdown), but would get access to the Wildlife Park, the house and facilities.
Amenities: Currently the cafe is operating takeaway only. When normal service resumes, toilets, play areas, and a cafe.
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 2km. In dry weather, this route is absolutely possible with a buggy. Be careful when wet, once you turn away from the gardens it’s a grassy path so can get boggy in wetter months.
We’ve visited Lotherton so many times before, but this was our first time walking the boundary route. It’s perfect for little walkers!
From the field car park, walk towards the cafe past the beautiful gardens. Once at the cafe, turn right and head along the straight path past the play area and picnic field. Turn right at the end into the woodland (the start of the 12 Days walk for those of you who have visited at Christmas). The route is marked with a wooden signpost. Watch out for wooden blackbirds and play activities on the route (currently taped off)!
After the five rings, take the left turn along a tree lined path. The route takes you around the back of the playing fields and parking. As you pass, you may want to look in at the Orchard; a beautiful place and great for picnics and games of hide and seek. Perhaps our favourite part of the walk was the stone circle. You pass this directly. It was great for a snack stop and (another) game of hide and seek!
Continuing the walk eventually leads you to the entrance of the Deer Park. This is currently closed, but you can still enjoy watching the deer from the perimeter fence. Finally, we headed back towards the house to enjoy a bit more of the beautiful gardens. It’s a great little walk and really does let you see Lotherton’s best bits. I hope you enjoy it!
Car Parking: Free Car Parking at Alwoodley Park (Off King Lane) or Stairfoot Lane
Amenities: Playground (King Lane), picnic tables, large grass area for ball games (King Lane) and shops on King Lane for refreshments but no toilets
Circular Walk Distance: Depends on routes (there are lots!) but the one we did below is approx 2km
We parked in the Alwoodley Park car park just off King Lane. We then walked away from the main park and grass area, crossed the track which leads to Leos Rugby Club and entered the woods. We then walked left through the woods (there are various routes you can take) and kept going until we found the ‘Stone Mound’ as the kids call it! (I am sure it has a better name than this!) The kids love climbing up here, once at the top we then follow the path until we could see the rugby pitches and hung a left back to the main track which runs behind the rugby club. You don’t have to do the “off roading’ which mine like to do, you can follow the path from the car park to Leos Rugby club and continue straight down. You then come to a cross roads where there are some picnic benches, hang a left here and follow the path to the pond and down to the stream. Once you have crossed the stream, turn left and continue until you get the cattle gates, turn left here back over the stream and you come out at the cricket club. You can follow the path back to the one you started on or hang a right through the woods which brings you out at Alwoodley Park.
Adel Woods is full of paths and trails to explore.
Meanwood Valley Trail
Car Parking: Meanwood Park, Off Green Road, LS6 4LE
Amenities: Toilets and Cafe at Three Cottages Cafe (currently takeaway only) and playground within park suitable for all ages.
A good route for little legs is from the car park to follow the paths ahead keeping the beck on your left. Cross the small stone bridge over the beck where the tarmac path ends and follow the path on the opposite side along the stream walkway, over waterfall bridge and back through the woods to the open fields and cafe (This route is approx 3km). You can continue further to explore The Hollies.
Car Parking: There is a free car park (can get busy) off Weetwood Lane, LS16 5PA
My eldest describes a walk around The Hollies as like walking around an outside Tropical World! There is woodland, parkland, streams, ornamental gardens, dens and much more to explore. There is a wide main path that you enter The Hollies on and from there are numerous paths you can explore. We normally make our way down to the beck and then cross over there and make our way back up the other side to the car park if we are just doing a short walk.
Car Parking: There is limited off road parking on Thornhill Drive (road down from Calverley Primary School)
Circular Walk Distance: Various routes through the woods, carriers recommended
Follow Thornhill Drive, over the cattle grid until you enter the woods. Once in the woods, we took the first right to find the ‘Fairy Village’, follow the path until you see a sign directing you up a hill to the fairy village. Each individual village has been handcrafted and they all have a theme, they are BRILLIANT and you really need to visit to appreciate how good they are.
After visiting the fairy village we made our way back to the main path and explored the many paths running off from this. We found a great place to make a den and spent way too much time here that we ran out of time to explore further. You can find some more routes in the woods here.
Thornhill Drive, LS28 5QW
Adel Dam Nature Reserve
Car Parking: Use either of the Golden Acre Park car parks, one of which is on the A660 and the other on the Adel to Arthington road. (Free)
Amenities: Not at Dam itself but Golden Acre not far away with toilets and cafe (just serving takeaway during lockdown)
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 1.5km. Part of route suitable for pushchairs but carriers would be recommended. You can download the self-guided walking trail PDF here but we managed without!
Opposite Golden Acre Park, Adel Dam has been open to the public since it became a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve. The circular fern-lined path, winds in an impressive loop through the wet and dry woodlands, where you’ll have the chance to see badgers, roe deer, foxes and kingfishers to name a few.
The route is great for little legs, the paths are level and easy going up until the first hide (Marsh Hide), this section is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The remainder of the circuit is a more natural uneven surface, including steps, bridges and narrow points. Some areas do get boggy so suitable footwear required and you are required to stick to the paths.
It can be accessed through Golden Ace Park. Instead of walking across the new wooden bridge at the back of the lake verve down to the left and enter the nature reserve through the gate.
Hetchell Wood Nature Reserve, Scarcroft
Car Parking: Limited roadside parking available (Free)
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 3.5km, recommend carriers
Hetchell Wood Nature Reserve is a great place to explore as a family, there are lots of paths to follow through the woods and some great opportunities for a game of hide and seek in the heather! There is a tree swing and a lovely little stream to paddle in or have a game of ‘pooh sticks’.
You can do a nice 3.5km circular route from the main road. If you enter the reserve at the main gate from the main road and follow the path down to the stream, hang a right and follow the path around in a loop. Suitable for younger children distance wise but not buggies. More walking route details here.
A favourite place with my Mumblers and you can call off on the way home for ice cream at the Milk Churn!
If approaching via the A58 Leeds-Wetherby road, to reach the main entrance on Milner Lane take the turn right signposted Thorner at the New Inn pub crossroads at Scarcroft. Keep left at a triangular intersection and the nature reserve entrance is on the left, 0.5 miles further on. There is also a public footpath (parking for a few cars) from the side of the A58 at Bardsey.
Milner Lane, Scarcroft, LS23 6NA.
Rodley Park Fairy Door Trail and Woods
Car Parking: Roadside parking available on Town Street
Amenities: No toilets or cafe but there is a play area (currently closed during lockdown)
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 1-2km depending how far you explore into the woods. Woodland area not suitable for pushchairs but paths in park are fine for pushchairs.
Rodley is a great park to explore for all ages, with vast grassed areas for picnics and free play. Behind the park, there is an extensive woodland to explore and during lockdown, a local family have transformed Rodley Park by adding 102 BRILLIANT fairy doors! Each door is individually named, numbered and hand decorated, you really need to visit to understand how great the decorations to each door are.
*Tip before you go make a sheet with numbers 102 on and then children can write the names down aside each number as they find them.
Amenities: Toilets and cafe (currently takeaway) at Stable Courtyard
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 3.5km, suitable for pushchairs. Use the estate map here, our route is highlighted below in yellow. Walking in an anti-clockwise direction means the uphills are on smoother paths nearer the house. This route is suitable for buggies, but it is steep in places and be warned in wet weather can get extremely muddy in places!
Temple Newsam Estate has loads of different walks and woodland to explore. Starting the walk from the house gives you gorgeous views of what’s to come! Pass by the entrance to join the pretty tree lined avenue to start the walk.
When the path forks, take the left path (Bridleway) to start the circular route. It’s a lovely view on the way down this hill, a bit at odds with the sounds of the motorway and glimpses of trucks!
Top tip: Look out for the gate on the right out of some woodland for a pretty part of the nature trail to glimpse at. There are also some picnic benches in here if you want a quiet and picturesque spot! Be warned there are a few (small steps).
Following the route shown takes you on a quiet path to the back of Lakes, and you can follow this back to the popular Rhododendron walk up to the house and cut through the farm to the playground!
Temple Newsam Road, Leeds, LS15 0AE
Kirkstall Nature Reserve
This review is courtesy of fellow Mumbler Charlotte
Car Parking: There is a small car park just before the entrance (free) as well as roadside parking on Redcote Lane
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 1-2km.
Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve is on Redcote Lane, just off Kirkstall Road (near Asda). You’ll find the entrance on the right just before the railway bridges. Much of the site rests on a plateau of fly ash from the former Kirkstall power station which was demolished in the late 1970’s and then used as landfill. The site was capped and seeded with native wildflower species in the 1990s and now forms a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Walking through the reserve, you wouldn’t think you were sandwiched between Kirkstall Road and the railway line. It’s a lovely circular walk that takes you around the reserve, with a few extras along the way, including the highlight of our walk – the pebble beach!!!
Most of the paths are pram friendly, although access to the pebble beach is via some steep hill climbs. We managed it with our Mountain Buggy Duet, but would advise you perhaps leave your pram up-top or take a carrier if you want to skim stones. We spent a long time on the beach, skimming stones and watching a family of ducks slide down the weir and swim against the current. We really could have been anywhere!
And as we explored the rest of the reserve, we found a make-shift den in the woods, as well as a sensory garden. There isn’t any mention of them, but there are also some numbered makers along the way with little animals attached. We spotted a fish, a caterpillar and a snail!
The reserve is always open, dogs on a lead are welcome, and it’s free!
Redcote Lane, Leeds, LS4 2AL
Batcliffe Woods, Headingley
Car Parking: Roadside Parking on Queenswood Drive (LS6 3NR)
Circular Walk Distance: Approx 0.5-1km.
This is a great little woodland area, perfect for the younger Mumblers, as you can spend as little or as long as you like in the woods, walking up and down the little pathways. We enjoy walking over the large fallen trees, jumping on the ‘stepping stones’, finding and hiding in ‘bear caves’ and jumping in ‘giant foodprints’. There are also a few hidden glades, if you can find them, as well as the odd man-made den. Starting at Queenswood Drive, Batcliffe Wood takes you up to the edge of Beckett Park, so you can also enjoy some flatter outdoor space, should you fancy it.
Off Queenswood Drive, LS6 3NR
Roundhay Park Adventure Trails
Car Parking: Trails can be accessed from either the main Lakeside car park or from Mansion Road
Amenities: Toilets, cafe and playground at Lakeside Car Park
Circular Walk Distance: Various distances (see below) Suitable for pushchairs
Friends of Roundhay Park (FORP) FREE adventure trails in Roundhay Park have been designed by local children! The trials are free to use by all park visitors, with clue sheets being accessible in the Lakeside Cafe, Tropical World and the Mansion art gallery. You can also download the trail sheets here forp.org/little-friends-trails/
There are two trails, the first is an imagination trail called The Magical Fountains of Roundhay and is aimed at under 6s. Designed for pre-schoolers this trail route is fully accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs. The route is split into 3 sections (ranging from 1km -1.5km in length) which can all be done together or split over several visits – children will need your help to read and understand what to do. Imaginations at the ready.
The second is an adventure trial where older children (6+) have to solve The Secret of Roundhay Castle by undertaking various tasks. Designed for children of ages 6 and older, this trail is longer and more challenging. The route is split into 3 sections (ranging from 1.5km – 2.5km in length) which can be done together or split over several visits.
Hunger Hills, Horsforth
Car Parking: Off-site
Circular Walk Time: 45 minutes
A lovely walk which you can begin in from either Lee Lane West or West End Lane. There are various paths within the woods which you can take, you can find details of walks and paths in the woods here.
We took the circular route from Lee Lane West and teamed the walk with a session strawberry picking at Kemps Farm! The route was muddy even though we went on a dry day so take your wellies! The path is not suitable for prams and is steep in places.
Gallows Hill Nature Reserve, Otley
Car Parking: On-site
Amenities: No toilets
Circular Walk Distance: 1km. Approx 40 minutes
Gallows Hill is a peaceful and increasingly diverse place, situated along a stretch of the River Wharfe in Otley. It is a habitat for a great many species of wildlife, most notably the Common Toads which can be found in the pond in large numbers. Look out for the pond where you may see a flash of blue as a kingfisher flies over the water.
The Friends of Gallows Hill help maintain the area, keeping the pushchair friendly riverside path from overgrowth and planting numerous trees over the years, including cherry, ash, hawthorn and hazel. The flat path guides you around the central lake, passing the community orchard, the pond and the river before heading back to the car park or into Wharfe Meadows Park. We spent approx 45 minutes with numerous stops for wildlife spotting.
Otley, LS21 1DY (Off pool road near Stephen Smiths Garden Centre)
Car Parking: On-site
Amenities: No toilets
Circular Walk Distance: Just over 1km. approx 40 minutes
With flat paths all the way around the Tarn, ideal for scooters, prams and wheelchairs – though there are no bikes allowed. Ducks and Swans galore plus plenty of spots to try to see a fish or 2 and if you are lucky there may be a friendly fisherman who will show you their catch.
Cemetery Road, Yeadon, LS19 7UR
Car Parking: We parked at Otley Chevin Car Park (LS21 3DD)
Amenities: No toilets
Circular Walk Distance: 2km. Approx 1 hour
The beautiful views and peaceful forest make the perfect circular walk. We opted to follow the Heritage Time Trail (carvings) for our walk which does include some steeper terrain. Leave the car park and follow the path straight ahead. This has been a favourite of ours for years and we first attempted it with little legs back when she was almost 4 and it took us 70 minutes from start to finish. Not all paths are suitable for a pram so a carrier is advised. There are plenty of paths off the main route so you are unlikely to bump into many people during your walk.
The path leads you up and round the Chevin and back to the car park starting point. If you need refreshments you can cross over to the Chilli Barn pop-up TAKEAWAY tearooms are (open 10-4pm) to grab a slice of homemade cake then take it home to relax with a cup of tea!
Pauls Pond, Bramhope/Cookridge
Car Parking: Off-site or Golden Acre Park main car park (Free)
Amenities: Toilets and take away cafe situated in Golden Acre Park
Circular Walk Distance: 1km or Varied. approx 1/2 hour or more if you tag on Golden Acre Park and / or Adel Dam Nature Reserve (see below)
A lovely walk which you can begin in either Bramhope, Cookridge or from Golden Acre. If starting at Golden Acre you take the wooden bridge before the underpass tunnel and follow the path through the woods to Pauls Pond. The new Fairy doors begin almost immediately on this route and continue all the way around the pond. You can find out more about the Fairy Doors here. The main paths will be fine for a solid pram but there are plenty of side paths which you can explore and streams aplenty to paddle in so take wellies!
If starting this walk from Bramhope take the style on the Sycamores and follow the path until you reach the woods. Hang right for Pauls Pond. There is NO PARKING on the Sycamores.
If starting from Cookridge walk down Pinfold Lane and head right towards the woods. There is NO PARKING on Pinfold Lane.
Hawksworth Wood, Kirkstall
Car Parking: Roadside parking on Hawksworth Road, LS18 4JP (up to 4hours free)
Circular Walk Distance: 1-2 km
A hidden gem between Abbey Road, Butcher Hill and Hawksworth Estate. With various entry points, you can make your walk as straightforward or as varied as you like. The main route is pram friendly, but would recommend you take a carrier if you want to explore off the beaten track. There are ‘troll’ sized boulders to climb over, as well as a miniature ‘pride-rock’, large Oak trees to admire, a wildflower meadow and even a great little stream to splash about in and throw the odd stone.
The terrain is on a hill so if you start on the Abbey Road side you will be walking up-hill.
Kirkstall, LS18 4JP
Circular Walks Further Afield
St Aiden’s RSPB Reserve
Oakwell Hall Country Park, Birstall
Nidd Gorge, Knaresborough
Pugneys Country Park, Wakefield
Anglers Country Park (including Room on the Broom Trail), Wakefield