Gledhow Valley Woods is a strip of ancient woodland and grassland that runs 1.5km through the north Leeds suburb of Gledhow. The trail follows Gledhow Beck and leads around the medieval Gledhow Lake.
At 57 acres, it’s relatively small but forms an important conservation area and holds a huge variety of flora and fauna with a range of birds to look out for.
Take a look around
Things to Note
Gledhow Valley Woods has the following on-site or nearby:
- Nearby Food & Drink
- Nearby Parking
- Rubbish Bins
Gledhow Valley Woods runs along Gledhow Beck, and when walking through the woodland it’s easy to forget that you’re actually surrounded by a busy city.
It is situated not far from Roundhay Park, around 2 miles north of Leeds city centre. The park is located in Gledhow and neighbours Chapel Allerton, running close to other north Leeds suburbs like Oakwood and Moortown.
Gledhow Valley Road cuts into the park and runs alongside most of the trail, so you can access the trail from this road as well as Allerton Grange Way. You can also drive down Gledhow Lane from Little Switzerland and Gledhow Hall, the 18th-century country house, at the top of the valley and access the trail where Gledhow Lane crosses Gledhow Beck.
The walk is lined with ancient trees, either side of the glacial valley, and the path can get very narrow in places due to steep valley banking.
Things to Do
The whole area is a designated conservation area and an important geological site, boasting an unusual and prolific colony of wild birds.
According to Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods there are 115 different species of birds, 186 species of plants, 74 species of fungi, and 14 species of butterflies.
Walk Around Gledhow Valley Woods
If you are looking for a short walk near you, this is the one. Gledhow Valley Woods is a great place to walk the dog, as well as a place to stretch your legs with the family. The trail is relatively short at just 1.5km. There are plenty of bins to help keep the area tidy, and it is well signposted. Telling the story of the parks history and wildlife.
Head to the south east corner of the park and you’ll find the intact Gipton Spa Bath House, a grade II listed building constructed in 1671. It’s about 500 yards from Gledhow Hall, which has now been converted into flats but is well worth seeing.
Fancy a Run?
Leeds Run Routes have put together a run route that passes through Gledhow Valley Woods. A scenic 6km that starts on Mexborough Avenue, moves up through Harrogate Road. Once at the top, you come back down Gledhow Valley Road and into the woods. The final stretch takes you down back to your start. A good mix of road and trail.
Volunteer at Gledhow Valley Woods
Walking around Gledhow Lake, you will be able to see that lots of work has recently been carried out to improve the lake’s surroundings. Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods regularly maintain the park and run community events.
If you would like to volunteer to help with the upkeep of the area, and have a say in what goes on here. Contact the Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods from their Contact Page.
Fishing at Gledhow Valley Woods Lake
The lake at Gledhow Valley Woods is a decent size considering how large the woods is. At first glance it may seem like a great place to fish, and you may even people fishing at the lake. However they are unlikely to catch anything due to the lack of fish.
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The land itself belonged to a monastic estate until 1539 when it was seized by the Crown following the dissolution of Kirkstall Abbey. The land was then purchased from Elizabeth I by John Thwaites in 1601.
The park became the designed woodland, in a very classic English style, of Gledhow Hall and throughout the 1880s and 1890s the surrounding Leeds suburbs of Roundhay and Chapel Allerton developed rapidly, while Gledhow retained its semi-rural character.
After being passed through generations, Gledhow Valley Woods was presented to the Leeds Corporation in 1944 by Hon Hilda Kitson. The trees that are currently found in Gledhow Valley Woods were planted in the 19th centuries to meet local industrial needs.
The name ‘Gledhow’ is derived from Saxon words that mean either ‘Hill of Burning Coals’ or ‘The Hill of the Kite’.
As mentioned in ‘Things to do’, Gipton Spa Bath House is at the South East corner of the park. This is a open air bath house built in 1671, that took its water from a nearby spring. There was a small fireplace inside to heat the room, and the plunge pool is about 1.75m deep, and 3m wide. It was first written about in a Leeds antiques dealers diary, in 1708. He took his son who was suffering from rickets, and had been told that regular visits would help. It became fairly popular after that time, until 1834 when Edward Parson wrote in his ‘History of Leeds’ – ‘The Waters of Gipton have lost their celebrity and are no longer frequented.‘. The bathhouse began to fall into disrepair after 1926, and the roof was badly damaged. It was closed up in 2004, but then in 2005 Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods cleaned up the bath house and opened it to the public.
In 2019 The Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods received £50,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restore Gledhow Lake. They removed silt from the lake, reinforced paths and improved biodiversity around the lake.
The woods don’t have any on-site facilities.
Food and Drink
If you’re looking for a coffee and a cake somewhere nearby, we can definitely recommend House of Koko in Chapel Allerton. For something more substantial, you could head to El Bareto for some tapas, then Further North for some drinks.
There is no council provided parking for Gledhow Valley Woods. However, due to the woods being surrounded by a number of side streets and roads there is plenty of parking available. We would recommend the following locations:
The nature of the woods means that it is not particularly accessible via wheelchair or pushchair. That is not to say you should not visit! Just ensure that care is taken, especially after it has rained.
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