Recreational Context

(Recreation and amenities in the Country Park)

The majority of the Country Park area is regularly used by local communities for quiet, informal recreation, involving activities such as walking, enjoying wildlife, running, orienteering, cycling and horse riding.

These activities are generally enjoyed in the numerous parks, designated nature conservation sites, areas of countryside and local greenspaces found within the Country Parks, many of which are owned and managed by Leisure Services, through Parks and Countryside.


Public Rights of Way (PRoW) 

Much of he recreational activity is in the WLCP is facilitated by the extensive Public Rights of Way network which runs through and around the extensive areas of park and greenspace, as well as additional desire lines, permissive paths and informal tracks.

This Definitive Map and Statement records four categories of public rights of way: -


The PRoW network in the WLCP is used primarily for informal recreation, as the routes provide the best means of getting into and moving around the countryside. Additionally they are also used simply as an everyday means of getting from A to B, and by people who wish to boost their physical health and sense of well being, by being out and about in the fresh air of the countryside.

Established Trails and Routes 

In some instances, a number of PRoW within the Country Park have been identified and linked (in much the same way the Green Gateway Trail element of the Country Park),  to create a recognised link or trail. These include: -

The Leeds Country Way

A 62 mile circular walking route running around the perimeter of the Leeds District, which is broken down in to four sections to facilitate its use.

The Pudsey Link

A recreational six mile linear bridleway route for walking, off-road cycling and horse-riding running between Tong Village and Apperley Bridge, created by a partnership of local walking/cycling/running and horse-riding enthusiasts together with Leeds and Bradford councils.

 The Calverley Millennium Way

A seven mile circular walk around the parish boundary of Calverley, largely following existing rights of way through as well as a section of the Leeds and Liverpool canal towpath and established to celebrate the Millennium. The route was created by a partnership of local people and organisations.

Aire Valley Towpath Route ( National Route 66)

A 22 km section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towpath, upgraded to allow cycling as well as walking, which runs between Granary Wharf in the city centre to Saltaire and Bingley.  The initial two thirds of this route runs within the West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateways area.

Excluded Area

At present a significant part of the Urban Core area of the WLCP is not serviced by a Definitive PRoW network. This so called Excluded Area is located inside the boundary of the former Leeds County Borough, which was initially exempt from a requirement to produce a Definitive Map and Statement. However, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) all exemptions were removed and a statutory duty was placed on Local Authorities to map any previously excluded areas.

Currently Leeds is at the start of the process to map its Excluded Area, a process which will involve an estimated 700 paths. The Countryside and Rights Of Way Act (2000) has imposed a national cut off date for the process of the 1st January 2026. After this time it will not be possible to add any additional public rights of way to the Definitive Map.






Access for All 

Leeds City Council believes that the opportunity to access and enjoy the city’s facilities, including it’s parks and greenspaces, should be readily available and relevant to all visitors, including people of all ages, those with physical disabilities or special needs, and member of various ethnic communities. To this end the Authority is committed to making appropriate improvements to its facilities and services in order to accommodate accessibility.

Accordingly, the West Leeds Country park and Green Gateways initiative will also seek, wherever possible, to develop, promote and encourage the use of the Country Park and its Green Gateways in order to provide access for all.


Amenities 

In addition to informal recreational pursuits, such as walking, cycling, horse riding etc. there are numerous other activities and interests for which facilities are provided in order to improve the overall visitor experience and which encourage visitors from both within the Leeds district and beyond to prolong their visits.

Museums and visitor centres

Facilities which benefit visitors by providing an educational experience centred around Leeds’ cultural heritage and which also contribute to  the principle of Lifelong Learning.

This includes attractions such as Kirkstall Abbey with it’s visitor centre and on-site interpretive material, highlighting the life and times of the Cistercian monks who built and worshipped at the Abbey, and who greatly influenced the lives of the citizens of Medieval Leeds.

Leeds Industrial Museum based in Abbey Mills, which celebrates the city’s Industrial past, and Abbey House Museum, adjacent to the Abbey, which explores Victorian Leeds.

Pudsey Park contains an aviary / aquarium complex which provides an educational experience centred around wildlife and conservation, and which also contributes to the principle of Lifelong Learning.

Interpretation

On site interpretive material in the form of information / map boards is provided in numerous Parks and Countryside sites. It is intended to give a snapshot of the history, wildlife and facilities available in a specific area, and also allows the visitor to orientate themselves.

Many sites also have site specific leaflets, which as well as promoting the sites, and encouraging people to visit, play a similar informative role as the on site boards.

Nature conservation sites & Nature Reserves

The West Leeds Country Park incorporates a number of designated nature conservation sites which support a range of wildlife habitats. Whilst these places contribute to both the regional and national biodiversity they also provide an attractive and sustainable natural environment for education, leisure and work. Wildlife watching is fast becoming one of the nation’s most popular pastimes, (the RSPB alone has more than a million members), and whilst nature conservation sites offer facilities for people interested in wildlife to enjoy their hobby, they also contribute to the visitors general sense of well-being.

Cycling

The West Yorkshire Cycling Strategy and the Leeds Cycling Plan, in harmony with the West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan, recognise and promote the benefits of cycling, notonly as a sustainable means of transport, but also for exercise, recreational and enjoyment.

Where appropriate, the objectives contained within these cycling strategies will be supported by the West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateways initiative, and suitable routes will sought to be established, especially where the bridleway network can be linked with safe road routes.

Orienteering

There are regular orienteering events organised throughout the WLCP, with established mapped routes available for Calverley Woods, Bramley Fall and Lower Fall and Black Carr and Park Woods.

Groups like the Airienteers make frequent use of parks and areas of countryside in west Leeds, holding around six events a year in Hawksworth Woods, Swaine Wood, The Outwood and Gotts Park.

Potential new sites have been identified on Post Hill, and an extension to Bramley Fall in the south east.

Where appropriate, further courses could be established within the WLCP area.

Horticulture

Numerous allotments sites are provided around the WLCP, which positively impact on the physical health and well being of the people who use them, by providing a means of exercise and a source of healthy vegetables as an end product.

In more formal parkland, flower beds, rockeries and feature gardens, such as the Japanese Garden in Horsforth Hall Park, are provided and regularly tended in order to enhance the sites.

Sport and games

These include provision for “formal” or team sports, including sports pitches and courts for the playing of football, rugby and cricket.

Additionally there are “informal” sports areas such as golf courses, orienteering courses tennis courts and bowling greens.

For younger members of the community there are children’s play area, including provision for integrated play and areas for small children, as well as adventure type playgrounds.

Custom built BMX and skateboard tracks are also provided in suitable parks, and these prove popular with teenagers.

Facilities

A limited number of parks have catering facilities, such as the Abbot Tea Room at Abbey Mills Museum and a café/bar at Gotts Park (weekend and evening only), though many more are serviced by mobile ice cream vendors.

Conveniences are also available
















West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateways

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