Leeds is my pride and joy. I feel so happy when people ask where I live that I can say Leeds; it’s one of the most vibrant, lively cities I know. So much is packed between Millennium Square and Call Lane you’ll always find something to do. This city is alive.
But born and raised a country girl in a village of less than four thousand, sometimes I miss the peace and quiet. I miss the greenery, the countryside, feeling close to nature. And finding time to escape city life can be hard; you live there, you work there, you study there, you breathe there. Luckily, hidden away in its urban landscape, Leeds hosts many gorgeous green spaces to step away into to recharge your batteries and appreciate once again the beauty of our planet (I’m turning all David Attenborough on you now).
1. Roundhay Park
This is the first park I ever went to in Leeds as I had heard great things, and rightly so. The park is huge and diverse; from areas with neatly mowed grass and concrete paths to overgrown tracks, old castle ruins and lakeside trails, there’s always something to keep your interest. During my visit we lunched at a café overlooking the tranquil Waterloo Lake, then took to a track which lead us round the lake, up to the castle ruins and then to the gorge. A circular route takes you along the top of the gorge then down next to the stream which can be followed back up to the lake. The fresh air makes you feel alive. Roundhay Park is beautiful.
The park also hosts Tropical World which you can enter for a mere £5 fee. This attraction is home to the largest collection of tropical plants in the UK outside the Kew Gardens and many exotic animals; definitely worth a stop if you are visiting the park. You’ll see butterflies, meerkats and a variety of birds and fish just to name a few. A day escaping to Roundhay Park is undeniably a must.
2. Golden Acre Park
Another popular park is Golden Acre Park. Again, this has beautiful gardens and a woodland area complete with a circular lakeside walk. The park is brimming with wildlife, positioned between two nature reserves; Adel Dam and Breary Marsh. Upon arrival at the lake you will be greeted by ducks, swans, geese and coots alike. The squirrels residing in the park are also surprisingly friendly; many people were sat out in clearings in the woodland with bags of nuts which the furry creatures took from outstretched hands without hesitation. As well as booming with wildlife, the plant species are also varied with the park homing three of the National Collections.
Golden Acre Park is also part of the Meanwood Valley Trail; a trail which connects a series of adjacent parks from Woodhouse Moor (commonly known as Hyde Park) up to Golden Acre Park. The linear track runs seven miles long and with it starting not far from the city centre is a rural haven right in the heart of Leeds.
3. Woodhouse Moor
As mentioned above, Woodhouse Moor is commonly known by students and locals alike as Hyde Park, the surrounding streets a very popular student area and the park backing on to the University of Leeds. Hyde Park is less of a “let’s go for a walk” park and more of a “let’s sit in the park” park, but equally just as nice to have a stroll through and take a book with on a lazy summers afternoon. In fact, throughout the summer months the park is a patchwork of people on blankets catching the rays (we are British, we need make the most of the sunshine!). It’s central location also makes it ideal if you want to escape from the city for a few hours as opposed to a day exploring nature.
It’s always nice to return to city life after my time out in nature. But I’m so glad to have these parks on my doorstep (or near enough) to go to when I feel like getting away; to have a space to think, a little bit of peace and quiet and to appreciate what’s around.
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