This, the only linear walk in the book, is a splendid ramble, surprisingly rural in aspect throughout, even though it begins just a stone's throw from the bustling heart of Leeds. You start among the terraces of redbrick houses that are so typical of the city, and five minutes later you are in delightful woodland.
Linking with the Dales Way
The walk follows the first 5 miles (8km) of the Dales Way link path from Leeds to Ilkley (the walk's official starting point). This link path begins at Woodhouse Moor – where fairs and circuses have long pitched their tents – so we shall do the same. The path follows Woodhouse Ridge into Meanwood Park and along the Meanwood Valley, cocooned against creeping suburbia by a slim sliver of woodland. The route is also promoted as the Meanwood Valley Trail, so there are regular waymarkers to keep you on track.
Leeds is fortunate to have so many parks within the city limits: long established green spaces such as Roundhay Park, and newer parks created from 'brownfield' sites. The first few miles of this walk are through some of this pleasant parkland. Then, having crossed beneath the Leeds Ring Road, you have the more natural surroundings of Adel Woods to enjoy. The walk finishes near Adel church, dedicated to St John the Baptist. Though small, it is one of the most perfectly proportioned Norman churches in the country, having been built about 1170. The ornamental stone carving is noteworthy – especially the four arches framing the doorway. From Adel, there's a reliable bus service back to Woodhouse Moor.
Walk down Raglan Road (opposite the library at the corner of Hyde Park) and on along Cathcart Street. At the T-junction, turn right onto Rampart Road, cross Woodhouse Street, and walk ahead up Delph Lane. At its ultimate end, go forward through a gap and left onto the higher path along Woodhouse Ridge. Keep with the main trail to a barrier. Where it splits, take the middle option to Grove Lane. There, cross to the path opposite, which shortly emerges at Monkbridge Road.
Cross the road into Highbury Lane, recovering the path beside Meanwood Beck beyond its end. At a junction by a converted mill, go left and then right onto a path between allotments. Keep on to emerge onto a street and walk ahead. After 100yds (91m), by a post box, turn right into Meanwood Park. Follow the drive to reach a car park. Pass through and swing left onto a lane that leads to a terrace of stone cottages, Hustlers Row.
Approaching the houses drop left along a stony track to cross a footbridge over Meanwood Beck. Bear right just beyond at a fork and head upstream above the beck, shortly rising to continue along a raised bank beside a disused mill leat. Ignoring side paths, it eventually leads to a pair of bridges. Swing over that on the right above a weir and walk forward to a broad path. Go left to emerge from the trees through a gate. Carry on at the edge of a field into more trees, ultimately coming out by a picnic site and information board onto a lane. Follow the lane left but, just before reaching a junction with a main road, turn off along an unmarked track on the right. It runs below the embankment before swinging through an underpass.
Take steps, at the far end, on to a path that follows Adel Beck. Keep left of the next pile of boulders, rising to a path along the fringe of the woodland. Keep to this higher path until you eventually reach a major fork. Bear right, following an aqueduct across the dip of the valley. Curving left, the path continues through Adel Woods, in time meeting a prominent junction.
The Meanwood Valley Trail is signed left, dropping across a stone slab bridge and climbing steps to a small pond. Cross the small feeder stream and fork right. Occasional wayposts mark the ongoing path, which shortly emerges to run at the edge of more open ground. Joining a broader path keep left, finally emerging through a car park onto Stair Foot Lane. Go left, dropping through a dip and up to a junction. Turn right along Back Church Lane but, as that then bears right, keep ahead along a path to Adel church.
Walk past the church and leave the churchyard by a collection of coffins and millstones. Cross the road and take a field path opposite. Bear half left across the next field to the Otley Road (A660). Turn left to find a bus stop, opposite the Lawnswood Arms, for the bus back to Woodhouse Moor, in Leeds.
Urban ginnels, parkland and woodland paths
Keep on lead near roads
OS Explorers 289 Leeds
Street parking off main road at both ends of the walk; bus services 1 and X84 operate between the two points
None on route
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.