Leeds Canal Walk
Enjoy a stroll from Leeds city centre to Kirkstall and Shipley on this waterside walk along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. There's lots of pretty locks, lovely Yorkshire countryside and views of the River Aire which runs alongside the canal.
It's a 13 mile walk but it starts at Leeds train station and finishes at Shipley rail station so you can catch the train back at the end of your outing.
The walk begins next to the train station and the Granary Wharf shopping centre in Leeds city centre. You can pick up the canal just to the south of the station and follow the towpath west towards Kirkstall. You'll pass the Kirstall Valley Nature Reserve before coming to the famous abbey. You can cross the bridge and visit the abbey park and explore the fascinating ruins. The Cistercian monastery was founded in 1152 and is now a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument. There is a visitor centre with interactive exhibits which illustrates the history of the abbey and the lives of the monks.
The canal continues west passing Bramley Hall Park where there are some nice woodland trails on the south side of the canal. Shortly after you come to Rodley where you will pass the Rodley Nature Reserve on the northern side of the River Aire. The wetland reserve includes water features, woodland, grassland and scrub. It's a great place for birdwatching with little grebe, tufted duck, gadwall, shoveler, kingfisher, dipper, oystercatcher, lapwing and common tern to look out for.
The next stage takes you from Rodley to Apperley Bridge where you will pass Calverley Woods. The woods have a network of footpaths and mountain bike trails and include bluebell woodland, an old walled garden and hidden grottoes.
The last stage takes you past Buck Wood and into the market town of Shipley where the route finishes. The town played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution and, in particular, the growth of the textile industry. Look out for a number of old canal-side mills as you finish the walk.
To extend your exercise you could continue west and visit Saltaire where you will find a fascinating Victorian model village and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Aire Valley Towpath also runs through the area and will take you all the way to Bingley.