Friday, 11 September 2015

Leeds Woodhouse Moor / City Center Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 6.8 km (4.2 miles), terrain: one hill, gain 65 meters

Leeds running routes:
Leeds Canal route
Leeds Center/Woodhouse Moor route
For more running routes, see Route List.

Leeds is one of those places that most people have difficulties imagining: is it famous for anything? Is there anything to see there? 

Well, the answer is: there is definitely a lot to see in this hilly Yorkshire town: elaborate Victorian office-buildings, markets, covered galleries, elegant squares, imposing municipal buildings, canal-side and river-side trails.
Queen Victoria relaxing in Woodhouse Moor park
Like most British towns, most of Leeds was formed during the Industrial Revolution. It was an important wool- and flax-mill town, with a lot of other industries flourishing to service the mills. Nowadays, it is a regional banking and service center. Additionally, Leeds has long been a shopping magnet for the region: the downtown is full of covered shopping centers, from quaint Victorian galleries to huge new malls.

So, if you want to see the sights in Leeds, here's a run that will provide some variety: taking you through the downtown, the university, some typical residential neighborhoods, as well as through Woodhouse Moor park (also called Hyde Park).

So let's get going and start exploring!
The town hall at The Headrow
The Run
We'll start the run along The Headrow, the most impressive downtown street. At the corner of Calverley Street, you'll face the huge, domed Leeds Town Hall to one side and the library and art gallery on the other.

Face northwards, and run along Calverley, running slightly uphill past the twin-spired Leeds Civic Hall to the right and then the hospital on the other side. There is just this one, long, easy hill at the beginning. The rest of the run will be downhill or flat.
The Civic Hall with kids' rides
At the end of the hospital, you'll come to a little traffic circle: keep right and run towards the little gothic building down the block, at the entrance to Leeds Beckett University.

I have a soft spot for running through universities: they're quiet, but always fun, full of youthful creative energy.
Beckett University entrance
So, go past the gate and continue running straight into campus. Just past the Edge fitness building, take the ramp upwards towards the right side, up to a square pond.

Run by the pond, past the trees and benches, then turn left to run westwards, up the next ramp into Chancellor's Court, passing the Botany building and its Sustainable Garden on the left.
On the way to Chancellor's Court: head left, up the ramp
Follow the red bicycle paving as it curves to the left and then exits the campus after the next buildings. You come out onto Mount Preston Street, where you turn right and continue running uphill past the edge of the university.

Mount Preston runs into Clarendon Road, where you keep right and continue following the edge of the school, still going uphill. You'll pass the old gothic buildings of the Business School on the left.
The Business School buildings
Then, where Moreland Road crosses Clarendon, you'll see Woodhouse Moor park ahead, to the left. Head into the park and stay along the right side to continue northwards. The park is green and beautiful, but not particularly big, certainly not like Hyde Park in London.

NOTE: For a really long park run in Leeds, head out to Roundhay Park, way out on the northeast edge of Leeds.

The trails in Woodhouse Moor: now this feels like real running country!
When you pass the monument to Queen Victoria, cross Woodhouse Lane and then head left through the northernmost part of the park, which looks more like an unused lawn and parking lot than a real park.

At the northern corner of the park, you come back to Woodhouse Lane again. Cross it at the bus stop and run past the playground to head back south along the west edge of the park, next to Hyde Park Road. The neighborhoods west of here, Hyde Park and Headingly, are pretty typical for Leeds: cramped working-class row-houses lining the hillsides. But most are well-kept and you can sense neighborhood pride.
Along Hyde Park Road: typical Leeds neighborhood
At the south edge of the park, turn left and run back to where St. John's Avenue turns off to the south, a little lane between the red-brick houses on the right side.

Now you're finally running downhill through quiet residential streets. The street name changes to Rosebank Road, and a narrow park begins on the bluff along the left side. From a distance, it looks like the park has some Stonehenge-like boulders set up in circles. But they are all of recent origin, carved decorations for the lookout.
Mini-Stonehenge at Rosebank
Rosebank curves into Belle View Road, which later becomes Park Lane, itself curving eastwards along the ridge, back towards downtown. You'll see some office buildings in the distance, marking the city center.

When you reach the busy intersection at the A58 freeway, just keep going straight, and follow the little pedestrian suspension bridge on the right side to keep going eastwards into the town center. The street is now called Westgate.

The Town Hall is just a few blocks ahead, but -- ahhmmm, excuse my rambling -- we'll take a loop through the downtown now and see more of Leeds.

But Westgate is loud, let's get out of here! So take the second turn to the right, onto Park Square West. In a few steps, you'll be at one of the most elegant squares in town. The well-kept Park Square is surrounded by Georgian homes and the Moorish-style St. Paul's House.
Park Square
Run left through the square then to the right, to St. Paul's Street.

Now you turn left and run to the end of the street at King Street. This is a bit loud, too, so let's find a quieter way to go...

Turn right, then left onto Quebec Street and run past the beautiful Quebecs Hotel (ex Liberal Political Club), coming out onto City Square. This is a huge, busy square, with the train station behind the massive Queens Hotel, and the renaissance-style Cloth Hall on the left. Statues of famous Leeds residents line the square, like James Watt (developed the steam engine) and Joseph Priestley (discoverer of oxygen).
Cloth Hall at City Square
Cross the square to the small gothic church on the other side with the huge Trinity shopping center behind it, then turn left to head north along Park Row.

At the prancing metal horse of the Lloyd's Bank, turn right onto the pedestrian street (Bond Street) and now run eastwards through the shopping district.
Lands Lane: good burgers straight ahead at Byron's
It looks like a typical British town here, but there are shopping malls all over the place.

At Lands Lane, turn left and head back north towards The Headrow along this pedestrian shopping street. On the right side, you'll pass two very elegant Victorian-era shopping galleries: Queen's Arcade and Thornton's Arcade.
Thornton's Arcade in the evening
At The Headrow, turn left and run the last few blocks back to the start. So now you know that there is indeed a lot to be seen in Leeds!

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