Leeds is the second-largest legal and financial centre in Britain, after London, so it’s a destination for many business travellers. But with hills, waterways and plenty of greenery, it’s also a great location for varied running routes so there’s no need to abandon your running regime if you’re spending a couple of nights in the city. For those who like trail running, venture a few miles out of town and you can find thick woodland and the undulating Yorkshire landscape that echoes the nearby Pennines.
For a route that packs a lot of power into a short distance, head to the picturesque hillside terraces that ladder up through Burley. Start on Cavendish Street near the Holiday Inn Express Leeds City Centre and head north-west. Cavendish Street doglegs into Kirkstall Road at Studio Road, and you can dip into the park around the Leeds Studios and ITV Yorkshire.
You’ll notice the incline starts to increase as you head towards Burley. You’re aiming for the series of residential streets that runs parallel between Kirkstall Road and Argie Avenue. These streets lie on a hill and you can run up one and down the other as you gradually power up the hill.
Run north up Haddon Road, left at the top and then back down Haddon Avenue, then north up Haddon Place and back down Martin Terrace. North up Sowood Street, back down Bankfield Terrace and then up again on Argie Road. The streets continue in this grid up the hill, growing steeper as you go. At the top of the hill, pause to enjoy the view southwards across the River Aire, towards the dense greenery of Armley Park.
The total climb is only around two miles but has an intensity that will get your legs burning. Head back to where you started taking Kirkstall Road all the way.
For something a lot flatter, there’s a route along the canals and the river Aire, starting at the Royal Armouries just south of the Leeds City Centre and next to the Holiday Inn Express Armouries . These canals once supplied coal to the city and fuelled its massive expansion during the industrial revolution, when Leeds became a centre for Britain’s wool production. The docks here were overhauled in the 1990s through to the 2000s and a number of pieces of public art were installed, including the now-iconic ‘A Reflective Approach’ by British sculptor Kevin Atherton (look for the huge, reflective silver ball).
Start your run outside the hotel and head north towards the River Aire. Run along the south bank, heading west and cross the footbridge outside the Royal Armouries Museum onto Armouries Way. Stick to the towpath beside the waterway until it runs out at the footbridge that crosses the river. Cross onto the north bank, onto High Court Lane, and turn left, running all the way down The Calls, and then Call Lane, keeping the river on your left. Take a left down Sovereign Street, then cross back over the river on Victoria Bridge.
Follow the river on Canal Wharf, and cross once more on Wharf Approach to find a footpath on the north bank that runs all the way up to Armley Park and the City Golf Course. You can keep going for miles along the canal on this footpath, if you have the time and stamina. For a route that takes you out of the city and into the great greenery that surrounds Leeds, head up to Headingley, in the north of the city, for a four-mile loop that blends woodland, parks, the university playing fields and some trails.
This is an area with a strong cultural history, thanks largely to the university. J. R. R. Tolkien lived in the area when he taught at the university, and writer Alan Bennett was brought up here, living above his father’s butcher’s shop.
Now the area is thick with students but also provides easy access to some secluded running spots and the tranquillity of some lovely woodland. Set off from the Headingly Campus of Leeds Beckett University, about 2.5 miles north-west of the city centre – it’s just north of Beckett Park. Run north out of the campus on Harrowby Road, take a right on Kepstorn Road and then head east across the university playing fields, towards the trails of Weetwood. Soon you’ll hit Weetwood Lane, which sweeps up north through the wood. Follow it all the way up to the main road, then run east and dive back into the secluded greenery of the wood, heading south down Parkside Road and then following the trails that run alongside the Meanwood Beck.
The wood is a great place to explore at your own pace but, to complete the loop, follow the Beck all the way to the south of the wood and exit on Hollin Drive, before turning right on Moor Road, which leads you back to Leeds Beckett Campus.