With the whether starting to warm up, its the perfect time to get outside and discover the beauty of Leeds. Inspired by the Tour de Yorkshire, we’ve put together a list of the best bike rides in and around Leeds. So why not enjoy the fresh air, get some exercise and explore the wonders of Leeds!
Aire Valley Towpath
Probably one of the most well known and simplest routes to follow in Leeds, the Aire Valley Towpath is 17 miles in total, but you can split it into sections for an easier ride. The route starts at Granary Wharf and leads you west along the canal, and past beautiful countryside and industrial landmarks. Firstly, you’ll pass Armley with its historic mills and warehouses, then past the infamous Kirkstall Abbey. You’ll then cycle past many lovely suburbs including Bramley, Rodley, Calverley, Apperley Bridge and Thackley. You can stop here if you wish, or head further out of leads to Shipley, Saltaire, and finally Bingley.
Tour de France route
For just a taster of the 2014 Tour de France route, instead of the full 190km (unless you’re feeling brave!), head out to Otley where you can start the 6.5km route. Starting on Pool Road by Wharfemeadows Park, you’ll cycle alongside the stunning River Wharfe. The route then crosses over onto Harrogate Road and through a number of picturesque villages, before ending in Weeton Beck just outside of Harrogate itself.
Golden Acre Park Circular
If you’re an experience cyclist with plenty of stamina, why not tack the 25 mile Golden Acre Park Circular. Starting at the park itself, the route then joins the Meanwood Valley Trail and leads to the Royal Armouries, meeting up with the Trans Pennine Trail by the river. The towpath stretches a scenic 5 miles to Woodlesford Bridge, before leaving the canal and crossing the river, climbing up and over the A1 towards Temple Newsam. The last leg of the ride turns onto the Wyke Beck Way, taking you up to Roundhay Park, and finishing after 2 miles back at Golden Acre Park.
Another hefty journey, the Harewood Loop begins its 22 miles at Roundhay Park and circles around the beautiful Eccup Reservoir, then taking you through the stunning Yorkshire countryside. Passing through quaint villages such as Weardley, there’s plenty to see on this route. You’ll then pass through Harewood, and loop round through East Keswick, Bardsey, Wike, Shadwell, and finishing back at Roundhay Park.
The Aireborough Greenway
Perfect for less experienced riders, children, or those who just want a steady ride, The Aireborough Greenway is just 1.5 miles exploring the suburbs of Leeds. Beginning at Guiseley Station, you’ll take a leisurely ride through the town, and onto a dedicated cycle path that leads you though Spring Wood and the Engine Fields Urban Nature Park. Next, the route takes you up to Yeadon where you can stop and relax overlooking the beautiful Yeadon Tarn.
An ideal way to spend a sunny afternoon in Leeds, the 18 mile Headingley Loop begins in the suburb before heading up Otley Road. You’ll pass beautiful nature hotspots such as Golden Acre Park in Horsforth, Adel Dam and Eccup Reservoir. Along the way you can stop at lovely villages such as Arthington and Weardley, then take steady ride back to the beginning.
Barwick-in-Elmet to Coniston Cold
The longest trail on our list reserved for the most dedicated cyclists; this 93 mile route shows you the best that Yorkshire has to offer. Kicking off in Barwick-in-Elmet, you’ll journey through Tadcaster, Boston Spa, Wetherby and Otley. The trail then ventures out of Leeds to Ilkley, Skitpon and Saltaire, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take in the breath-taking views of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Beauty and Yorkshire Dales on your way. Burley-in-Wharfedale is the next stop, before heading to Leeds city centre via Horsforth, and ending back in Barwick. If you don’t want to tackle the mammoth journey all in one go, why not make a weekend of it.
Allerton Bywater Loop
Discover the east of Leeds during a ride around the 24 mile Allerton Bywater Loop. Make your way to the start on The Lines Way, then cycle through the impressive Temple Newsam grounds. Take your time to enjoy the quaint villages of Barrowby and Aberford. Then admire the Lotherton Hall estate, another infamous landmark in Leeds. Before travelling back to the start, enjoy the wildlife of the Ledston Luck nature reserve.
If you love the thrill of mountain biking, head over to the Esholt Woods. Full of downhill trails, fast runs, big jumps and tight corners, this is not for the faint hearted! The routes take you by Calverley in Leeds, and stretch out as far as Baildon and Shipley.
Meanwood Valley Trail
The 7 mile Meanwood Valley Trail is another popular route for mountain bikers, best accessed via Meanwood Cricket Club. Head out to Golden Acre Park, or carry on further for more hardy rides. Make sure to stop by Meanwood Grove, which has plenty of rocks and drops to practice your skills. From here you can also try out the Adel Trails, which cater for beginners to more advanced mountain bikers.