Adel Woods is a maze of trails and paths, ponds and a stream. The woods are dotted with remnants of the industrial past that jut out from the undergrowth.
Stone gate posts, mill ponds and the bedrock of the industrial revolution in the form of a large Flax Mill can be traced back here. This rich history makes Adel Woods an exciting place to explore.
Take a look around
Things to Note
Adel Woods has the following on-site or nearby:
- Nearby Food & Drink
- Nearby Parking
- Rubbish Bins
Adel Woods spans 175 acres of woodland in the north of the city between Adel and Alwoodley, and makes up part of the Meanwood Valley Local Nature Reserve. This green space is relatively unknown to the wider city population, and this makes it a bit of a secret escape for the people of Leeds.
It’s worth getting to grips with the geography of the woods before you arrive as it’s not particularly well signposted – one change that The Friends of Adel Woods are in the process of making.
Scotland Wood is also contained within Adel Woods, and both are sometime referred to by each others name.
Things to Do
At Alwoodley cricket club you will join Adel Beck flowing down south. Follow the stream until you reach a paddock and a sandy bank right before the Meanwood Valley Trail signs for Adel. This spot is the best in the woods to take a paddle in the shallow water. We always recommend doing this with a responsible adult.
The Friends of Adel Woods group have put a series of bird boxes along the North of Crag Lane, these spots are perfect to spot the local birdlife. You can expect to see the less commoner birds, including: Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and the Nuthatch, Sparrow hawk and Red Kite. Some of the more mysterious wildlife in the area have been caught on CCTV.
Adel Woods is classed as an urban green corridor, part of a larger green belt surrounding the city. The area from the Seven Arches (aqueduct) north to Stairfoot Lane is of Ecological and Geological Importance (SEGI). The woodland opens up into meadows, heathland and a large bog where unusual plant species flourish.
Within the woods you will come across a crag called ‘Eagle Rock’. This is a perfect spot for some bouldering – a form of rock climbing suited to small rocks.
If you’re interested in giving up your time to volunteer then the ‘Friends of Adel Woods’ welcome those that want to preserve the woods and appreciate the outdoors. One of the biggest benefits of volunteering is the friendships and socials to be shared with a group of like minded people.
There is a great three mile loop that starts at the Dunstarn Lane. This walk takes in the woods, and the tunnel under the road.
A section (just over a mile) of a Leeds walking favourite – The Meanwood Valley Trail – snakes through Adel Woods. Where the becks flow between boulders and within the woodland, the cool, moist conditions provide the perfect habitat for ferns, liverworts and mosses. Travel north and you will end up at Golden Acre Park or follow the trail south towards the Hollies.
Into trail running? Navigating through the woods hitting that PB? Adel Woods is definitely a top choice of ours when looking for somewhere to run. There are a number of little footpaths that weave through the woods, as well as the more well trodden ‘official’ footpaths. There is a very nice 6km run route through Adel Woods you could use as inspiration.
Riding a bike in Adel Woods is a popular option for someone that enjoys a mountain bike trail. The routes are not formally signposted, yet visitors have spotted the start of numerous mountain bike trails beginning at the car park on Stairfoot Lane.
You can walk your dog in Adel Woods off a leash, one dog owner commented: “Great place to walk the dog, just watch out for the cyclists.” There are dog poo bins around the woods, to save you carrying the bag all the way home.
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Adel Woods contains Scotland Wood (named as a nod to one of the first Flax Mills – Scotland Mill – ever to be built in Leeds in the late 17th century). Scotland Mill was the second ever Flax Mill in Leeds, signalling the start of the industrial revolution in the city. These mills span yarn for the linen industry and the water source from Adel Beck made the woods a perfect place to set up shop. Scotland Mill remained until 1906 before being burned down and never to be resurrected.
Interestingly, it is believed that the name Adel comes from the old English wood “adela” meaning “dirty, muddy place”. This is up for debate as some historians do not agree. However if you have ever walked through Adel woods after the rain you might not be so on the fence…
The Seven Arches
A Roman-esque aqueduct called ‘The Seven Arches’ was built in 1837 to transport water from the Eccup Reservoir to the city of Leeds. The use of this impressive structure was short-lived after the city’s demand exceeded the aqueducts capacity only 24 years after it was opened. The aqueduct still stands today with each arch spanning an impressive 34 feet.
Within the woods is a natural freshwater spring that spurts water from the face of a baby. In it’s Victorian heyday the freshwater spring was regularly used by folk visiting Verity’s tea room. Most recently in 2017 it was refurbished and brought back to its original glory by Leeds City Council. There isn’t a tea room standing anymore so the freshwater of the Slabbering Baby is your only thirst quencher. Not that we would recommend it…
The traces of war still leave a mark on the landscape of the woods today. On the eve of The Second World War a small pillbox and a multi-layered air raid shelter were built into the side of the old quarry. An urban legend on the war secrets hidden in this structure pervaded until only recently when it was revealed that the three floored underground facility was storing Leeds documents for civilians; hardly a plot twist for a John Le Carre novel.
Straight after the war Adel Woods was sold to Leeds Corporation (Leeds City Council) for just over 23k. The stipulation attached to this sale enshrined the land to be used for agriculture, horticulture or a public open space only.
No toilets available. Bins are found on the marked walking route.
Food and Drink
Just off King Lane on the edge of Alwoodley, next to Adel Woods, is the Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant The Olive Branch. Grills and Mezes are popular selections on the menu with the traditional Moussaka dish a piece of pure comfort food.
There is a free to use dirt car park for Adel Woods just off Stairfoot Lane. The postcode for this Adel Wood car park is LS16 8DR. It is only accessible by car or small van as there is a height barrier in place.
The other side of the woods is a free tarmac car park at Alwoodley Village Green, the postcode is LS17 5EJ. This has no height restrictions, and can take a similar number of cars.
The trails through the woods are not suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
How to Get To Adel Woods
To get to Adel Woods by bus from the city centre you will need to catch a Leeds First bus 7a, 28 & 51.
To get to Adel Woods by train from the city centre you will need to catch a train to Headingley station, the closest one to your destination. And then catch a bus heading north on Otley road to Adel.
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