St Aidans RSPB reserve is managed by the RSPB for visitors and wildlife, on behalf of Leeds City Council.
Visit our new visitor centre with cafe, shop & toilet facilities. There are 12km of trails, plus the transpennine trail which passes the nature park on the southern side. The main trails take you amongst a variety of habitats including reedbed, wetland, meadows and woodland.
See website for directions and facilities – accessible from Woodlesford, Methley and Allerton Bywater. Suitable for bikes and pushchairs.
The route around the perimeter of Yorkshire Water’s Ardsley reservoir is approximately 1.5 miles, fairly flat and offers good views across the waterside and surrounding landscape. Suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs, bikes and kids scooters. There is a free car park on Haigh Moor Road in Tingley.
Dramatic moorland rock formations in North Yorkshire. This amazing collection of natural rock formations makes a great day out for families, climbers, geocachers, photographers and fresh air seekers. Let your imagination run wild and have a great day out at nature’s playground.
Free admission. Pay & display parking (free for National Trust members).
Brimham Rocks, Harrogate, HG3 4DW. 01423 780688
We love cycling as a family, but definitely prefer to stay on off road routes while the kids are young. We were excited to hear that in April 2017, Skelton bridge was unveiled to link up the Woodlesford section of the canal path (cycle route 67) with an off road path up to the Temple Newsam estate. I heard about this new cycling & walking link in South Leeds via Cycling in Leeds but there doesn’t seem to be much other information about it online yet.
I’ve recreated our route on Google Maps (click the map image to view the interactive map) in the hope it might help some other people to enjoy it. Read on for details and photos.
We started our ride from Thwaite Mills as you can park for free during opening hours in their car park, with easy access to the canal path (see cyclist icon). Cycling along towards Woodlesford you have lovely views of the canal and woodland and the path is easy to manage for children. There is a small issue of the canal path swapping sides after a short distance, which means you have to take your bikes up a path & over a bridge with steps down the other side. This was manageable, but a little tricky with a tag along attached to the back of one of our bikes. For this reason we would consider starting a ride at Woodlesford next time as you can use one of the locks to cross the canal which would be easier!
After about 2 miles you come to the new bridge on your left, with no signage to tell you where the path leads to (see star icon) . The path from this point on is part tarmac but mostly gravel, and wide enough to fit several bikes side by side. You follow along a stream and past fields for about a mile and a half (don’t be tempted to take the left hand fork up to the road earlier) before having to cross a small road to go under the M1 underpass (see tunnel icon). This part was a bit grotty with some fly tipping and graffiti around the access to the underpass, but perhaps the Council are working on that! Once you have gone through the underpass you take a right turn up towards the Temple Newsam estate and keep going for about 1/2 mile.
The route at this point links up with cycle route 66 and there is also a fork off the path down towards Leventhorpe if you want to make it a longer ride. We stopped at Temple Newsam for lunch and I was pleased to see some bike racks available in the cafe courtyard (see cutlery icon). Entry to the grounds and adventure play area is free, it’s lovely to enjoy a picnic or if you don’t want to carry it, the cafe has been recently refurbished.
The round trip route was 10 miles and took us about 1hr 40 mins as it was gently uphill on the way there and so pleasingly downhill on the way back. It was ideal for our 7 year to ride and the 4 year old on the tag along to an adult bike. Hopefully there will be some signage put up at some point as there are a couple of opportunities where you could take the wrong turn (luckily the phone signal is good enough to check the map!) The best thing is that it now opens up the potential to explore even further off road, via links with the wider cycling network.
Hope you have found this useful and happy cycling everyone!
The Sustrans site contains information about the national cycle network, wildlife conservation and art along the routes. You can search for walking and cycling routes for families which are traffic free and have lots to see and do along the way taking in some of the best countryside in the UK.
Woodlesford Lock on the Aire & Calder Navigation, is one of the best places to escape the city and enjoy country walks. Pack your binoculars and track down exotic wooden wildlife such as elephant, antelope, giraffe, gorilla, deer and the very rare Gruffalo! dotted alongside the canal. Use the bird screens to watch a huge variety of bird life. Look out for sand martins on the riverbank, the blue flash of a kingfisher or spot a forked-tailed red kite circling in the sky.
Woodlesford Lock, Woodlesford, West Yorkshire LS26 8PU.