Landscape Context

(The character and land use of the Country Park)

Landscape Character 

In 1994 a comprehensive assessment of landscapes in  the Leeds District was compiled, which largely corresponded to land within the Green Belt boundary. This assessment broke the Leeds district down into five Regional Character Areas (RCA): -

These RCA’s were then further subdivided into 19  landscape types.

The West Leeds Country Park falls into the Leeds Coal Measures(LCM) RCA and within this is further subdivided into the following landscape types, each of which contains specific Landscape Units: –

West Leeds Country Park Landscape types 

Pastoral Fringe Farmland

Landscape Units -

Landscape character: -

The pastoral fringe farmland landscape type is found along the undulating western fringe of Leeds, occurring in two landscape units: the Gildersome Fringe (LCM1); and the Bradford Fringe (LCM2).

It is a landscape of actively farmed land, containing a mixture of landscape influences, all dominated by human activity such as housing, industrial areas, quarries, tips, amenity land, recreation grounds, neglected and disturbed land. The farmland tends to consist of mainly small-scale fields of pasture, grazed by sheep, cattle and frequently horses.

Throughout, the farmland is under intense public pressure, with urban fringe land uses such as caravan storage, scrap yards and horse grazing common. Often, the structure of the landscape has, or is starting to break down with many hedgerows becoming low cut and gappy, or stone walls in disrepair. Many areas around the farmland are well used by the local community for both authorised and unauthorised recreational uses, providing a valuable amenity resource.

Pastoral Plateau Farmland

Landscape Units -

Landscape character: -

The pastoral plateau landscape type occurs in four landscape units: Hawksworth Plateau (MGP2); Guiseley Plateau (MGP3); Eccup Plateau (MGP4); and the Rawdon Plateau (LCM16).

Found in the north west of the district, mainly on the elevated Millstone Grit Plateau, this landscape type is characterised by medium scale, generally intact fields of pasture, grazed by sheep and cattle. The plateau tops are open and sometimes exposed, with isolated boundary trees and planted woodland strips alongside roads.

As the land drops, woodland occurs in small copses and as ribbons of semi-natural cover along streams and becks. A mix of hedgerows and (mainly) drystone walls form the field boundaries, being replaced by wire fencing as their condition begins to deteriorate. Small villages form the main settlements within this landscape type, with the urban edge of North Leeds occurring on the outskirts. Here, urban fringe land uses such as horse grazing and golf courses become more common. Extensive uninterrupted views can be gained over surrounding areas, particularly from the higher plateau tops.

River Valley

Landscape Units -

Landscape character: - 

The river valley landscape type occurs in two landscape units: the Calverley Valley (LCM18); and the Cockersdale Valley (LCMI9).

It forms an intact and distinctive river valley, defined by a prominent valley landform. The flat narrow valley floor generally contains a mix of land uses, including pastoral farmland, areas of amenity or recreational use and isolated pockets of industry or public utility works. Woodland, mainly semi-natural, lines stretches of the river banks, forming a strong linear feature alongside communication lines such as railways, canals and roads which can also be present. Woodland is prominent on the steeper valley slopes, providing an important recreational and visual resource and surrounding pockets of intact pasture. These tend to be bordered by drystone walls or a strong pattern of hedgerows.

Encapsulated Countryside

Landscape Units: -

Landscape character: -

The encapsulated countryside landscape type can be found in three landscape units. the Meanwood Valley (LCM12); the Kirkstall Valley (LCM13); and the Wyke Beck Valley (LCM14).

It occurs in linear areas or 'fingers' of countryside associated with river corridors, which extend right into the heart of the urban area.

The valley sides of the corridors can be steep sided and are generally well wooded, with pockets of scrub and pasture forming a green patchwork in an otherwise built up environment. Urban influences are present, with public utility works, isolated industrial units and occasional housing all in evidence, mainly along the valley bottoms. Views from within these areas are framed by either the development along the edges, or by the dense wooded nature of the semi- natural woodlands which abound.

The encapsulated countryside provides a valuable recreational resource for local communities and an important corridor for wildlife.


Current Land Use 

Contained within the Country Park area are numerous areas of countryside, parkland, allotments and recreation and sports grounds, which not only provide various opportunities for recreational pursuits, such as walking, horticulture, horse riding, sports and cycling, but many of which also form important wildlife habitats, helping to support a rich biodiversity.

Notable parks, including Armley Park, Farnley Park, Gott’s Park and the Kirkstall Abbey Estate, again make provision for recreation, but also provide aspects of cultural interest and include important buildings and structures, such as the ruin of Kirkstall Abbey, a twelfth century Cistercian monastery and historically one of the most important buildings in Leeds, and Armley House in Gott’s Park, a Grade ll listed building.

Interspersed with these semi natural areas, amenity greenspace and parkland, are extensive arable and pastoral landholdings. These are characterised and defined by field boundaries features, such as hedgelines and drystone walls, and are generally located in the more rural outer reaches of the Country Park.

Within inner-city urban areas however, the current demand for centrally placed land with building potential puts great pressure on brown field sites, which are highly desirable and sought after for development. Numerous new areas of housing and shopping have already been established, often with little provision for greenspace.

Recreational access to parks, countryside and greenspace on the periphery of the inner-city as well as in to the wider countryside beyond, should be made for residents in these areas, and to a greater extent, this is something the West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateway project is able to achieve.




West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateways


Return to the Management Plan Contents page, click the blue button

Return to the West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateways home  page, click the green button

West Leeds Country Park Management Plan Contents