The best forest walks near Leeds: 7 of the best family walks near me

The whole family will love these spectacular and wholesome trails

Monday, 9th November 2020, 1:31 pm
Walking has become much more popular as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (Shutterstock)

Finding a new place to explore is one of life’s small pleasures, and no weekend activity is more wholesome and refreshing than getting up and out for a walk or stroll.

Apart from being great exercise, walking is great for your mental health and can really relieve stress - so there’s really no excuse not to be discovering the local area at every chance you get.

And, because we’ve all been working from home, the coronavirus pandemic has also made us appreciate the nature on our doorsteps a little bit more.

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As England entered its second lockdown on 5 November, there’s no doubt the walking trend will rise again - and thankfully travelling to take exercise has been classed as “essential”.

We’ve compiled the seven best forest walks near Leeds that the whole family is guaranteed to enjoy.

Meanwood Valley

This delightful wooded trail runs from Meanwood, which is only a few miles north of Leeds city centre.

The seemingly-remote meandering path will take you through the nature reserve to the countryside surrounding Adel and Alwoodley, passing meadows, streams and ponds.

Perfect for an afternoon family walk, the area is a hotspot for local wildlife like frogs, newts and even common lizards.

Hackfall Woods

At just 2.9 miles long, the aptly-named Hackfall Explorer is a relatively short walk, but don’t be deceived - you’ll traverse tricky, hilly trails on your journey.

The spectacular woodland scenery could have been standing there for centuries, but unbeknownst to most it’s actually man-made.

The steep, woodland paths will lead you to discover beautiful gardens, waterfalls and follies.

It’s still a family-friendly walk, but perhaps not for small children.

Situated near Ripon, it is a 50 minute drive from Leeds, but the mini road-trip is worth it.

Kirkstall Valley Nature Reserve

Just outside of Leeds, this nature reserve is a real treat and an ideal place to discover on a weekend.

Situated on the site of the former Kirkstall Power Station, nature has fully been restored here and the area is bursting with young woodland and wildflower meadows.

Choose from a few different walking trails in the 10-hectare area and keep an eye out for otters and kingfishers at the old ford.

The good news is the reserve is only a 10-minute drive from Leeds city centre, so you can either spend a full day exploring or enjoy a short, relaxing walk.

Farnley Hall Park

The 16-acre former deer park surrounding the grand Farnley Hall is an interesting place to discover thanks to its different terrains.

The picture-perfect open grassland, woodland walks, pond, bridleway and formal gardens make it a haven for all kinds of wildlife.

A 15 minute drive from Leeds centre, it’s a great place to visit in all seasons, and kids will love it as the walks are easy and there’s a new children’s play area.

Chevin Forest Park

Chevin Forest Park in Otley has everything from woodland to meadows, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular places for walks in Yorkshire.

The short, 2.7 mile route has loads to offer. Set off from the Surprise View, where you’ll be met with breathtaking views across the valley, before making your way to the top of the ridge where you can see for miles.

You’ll then enter a series of gorgeous woodlands.

It’s a half hour drive from Leeds, which is absolutely worth it.

Kilburn Forest Circular

It’s one of the longest forest walks in the whole of Yorkshire, and it’s certainly one of the most rewarding.

At 10.6 miles along, this route is for more experienced hikers and it’s probably not suitable for younger children.

The path begins in the quaint North Yorkshire village of Kilburn, which is an hour’s drive from Leeds, and it meanders through the countryside, past the historic Byland Abbey ruins, then through the forests of Abbey Bank and Cokerdale.

The views on this walk are truly spectacular - not least because you’ll get up close to the famous White Horse figure on the side of a hill.

Richmond Circular

Forestry fans will rejoice on this delightful circular route, as you pass through not one forest but three.

It is about an hour’s drive from Leeds to the Green Bridge in Richmond where you’ll start the walk, but you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the imposing Richmond Castle.

Delve into the woodland as you climb up a series of accents through Billy Bank Woods, Round Howe and Hudswell Woods.

You’ll then reach the River Swale where the views over the tumbling water are nothing short of refreshing. The walk back takes you through tree-lined paths.

Take a picnic with you, and you have yourself a fantastic day out.