Did you know that May is the National Walking Month?
Spring is a lovely time of the year and there is often nothing better than getting out in beautiful surroundings and taking a walk. Everyone knows that walking is great for your health – it burns calories, boosts your metabolism, improves your heart health and your blood pressure. As good as walking is for your body, it is equally as good for your soul! Just a 20- minute walk can improve your mood, and if you choose somewhere that makes you feel relaxed, be it woodland, parkland or the seaside, it really gives you chance to unwind and recover from the stresses of everyday life. We are lucky here in Leeds that we not only have some wonderful parks to visit, but there is the stunning Yorkshire Dales and the world famous Yorkshire coastline within easy reach too. Here, we have selected just a few walks, some near and some a little further to inspire you to get those walking boots on!
One of the largest urban parks in the world, Roundhay is an enjoyable location all year round. Enjoy a stroll around Waterloo Lake on the Lake View Walk passing parkland, woods and the dam. This approx. 2.7km walk is mainly flat and takes in the tranquil beauty of the lake. The Secret Gorge Walk is again approx. 2.7km with some sections of steep ground. Passing through the castle ruins, this area of outstanding natural beauty makes for a peaceful walk. For a slightly shorter walk of approx. 1.5km on tarmac paths, why not take a look at the specialist gardens on offer at Roundhay on the Formal Garden Walk.
Circular Walk Around Brimham Rocks
For a lungful of fresh air, far-reaching views, and the chance to share in the day-to-day lives of some amazing wildlife take a walk at Brimham Rocks. Brimham Rocks and the surrounding area are full of wonder and mystery. Follow the circular walk to take in some of Brimham’s more peculiar shaped rocks, which boast names including the dancing bear, the druid’s writing desk, the smartie tube or the pink panther. See if you can work out how they might have gotten these curious names! Find more walks around Brimham Rocks at: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brimham-rocks
Hetchell Wood Nature Reserve
A mix of woodland, grassland and wet flushes, Hetchell Wood to the north east of Leeds provides a tranquil retreat. Managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the area is rich in rare species of wildlife who find sanctuary in the wide variety of habitats there. There is a good network of paths to follow which take in the woodland, a gentle meandering stream, grassland and imposing rocky crags. You can see a host of wildflower, insects and even Hebridean Sheep. A truly beautiful place.
Find out more: www.ywt.org.uk
Walk Amongst 800 Years Of History
One of best routes to follow at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, is the Boots, Gaiters and Vistas walk. Take in the fresh air and open views on this circular route around the estate and you can look over the valley to St Mary’s Church and nearby Ripon in the distance too.
Follow the Seven Bridges Valley route and spot traces of a garden from a lost time as you walk through what was once Aislabie’s Chinese garden as well as the 18th century water garden and medieval ruins of Fountains Abbey. It’s an easy-going walk that’ll take you over rustic bridges and through this secluded valley. Find out more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/fountainsabbey
Head to the woodland valley of Hardcastle Crags near Hebden Bridge for beautiful walks. Choose one of our waymarked trails and head off into the woods. Cross the river over stepping stones and call into Gibson Mill to hear how this remote former cotton mill operates entirely off the grid. As you walk look out for woodland wildlife including the resident northern hairy wood ant colony and their giant ant hills. Find out more:
Leeds And Liverpool Canal
Connecting the cities of Liverpool and Leeds, this canal is 127 miles in length, but you don’t have to walk all of it! There’s a popular three-mile walk from Saltaire station to Bingley ‘Five Rise’ – five locks built in a staircase formation, known as the wonder of the waterways.
Directions: Start at Saltaire station and head down Victoria Street in the direction of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Cross the footbridge that spans the canal and take an immediate left down a steep slope. Face the water and turn right. After a couple of miles of walking, you’ll reach the ‘Five Rise’.
Otley Chevin has some great walks to enjoy. A 2km circular route, the Heritage Time Trail takes you past 8 timber sculptures by a local artist that represent a different time period in the Chevin’s history. This walk has a good surface and is suitable for mobility scooters. A more challenging 4km route is the Geology Trail which includes some steep, muddy paths. There are 8 marker stones on this trail highlighting a nearby geological feature. If trees are your thing, then there is also a Tree Spotters Trail on which the more unusual trees can be found. Otley Chevin cannot be mentioned of course without the Surprise View. This is recognised as one of the finest panoramic views in Yorkshire, and depending on the weather when you visit, views of up to 60km away can be had – including York Minster!
Coastal Walk Along The Yorkshire Coast
Starting in Ravenscar take the coastal path towards Robin Hood’s Bay, and make it a longer circular walk, by following your footsteps back. Along the way spot seabirds and other coastal wildlife and if you’re really lucky, you might see a few dolphins or porpoises passing by. Find out more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/yorkshire-coast
Head To The Countryside And The Yorkshire Dales
For a challenge, follow large stretches of the Pennine Way – we’d recommend the route from Malham village, past Malham Cove and Malham Tarn higher up onto Fountains Fell. If you follow this route you will be able to experience the change from sheltered valley fields, walls and woodlands to the wild and desolate moorlands.
If you are after something a bit shorter but equally enjoyable, try the walk from Malham village to the dramatic waterfall of Janet’s Foss on the way to Goredale Scar. This lovely route goes through ancient woodland, carpeted with wild garlic and hopefully there might still be some bluebells in bloom. It ends at the waterfall itself, home of the Queen of the Fairies herself, Janet. Find out more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/malhamtarnestate