Rothwell Country Park is a green getaway destination for Leeds, in particular the south of the city. It has a significant green belt gap to the north and north west of the park.
The country park is an ideal weekend escape for families wanting a connection to nature away from the city.
Things to Note
Rothwell Country Park has the following on-site or nearby:
- Disabled Access
- Dog Waste Bins
- Nearby Food & Drink
- Nearby Parking
- Nearby Toilets
- Pushchair Access
- Rubbish Bins
Rothwell Country Park is 6-miles south east of Leeds city centre. The park is 52 hectares, and home to a wide array of wildlife as it is made up of wetland, woodland, meadow and hedgerows.
Things to Do
Friends of Rothwell Country Park
The Friends of Rothwell Country Park are a group of volunteers that come together to ultimately improve the state of the park, and its beautiful attributes.
Since its inception in 2010 the group have been meeting once a month to complete a range of tasks that include: planting, building, creating and fixing a range of features across the park.
You might also catch the group at a local event in the park too. To find out when the FoRCP are next meeting keep an eye on their Facebook page.
Rothwell Country Park Circular Walk
This easy walk is a 4.5 kilometre loop on footpaths and trails around the outer perimeter of the park. It’s versatile route that can be used for walking, running and even nature excursions.
You’ll move past rivers and ponds, across meadows and through woodlands. And what’s even better, the route can be cutdown to a 1.8 kilometres loop around an inner perimeter of the park for an absolute beginner.
The pond trail does what it says on the tin, it covers all the small water sections within the park. As the park used to be a working colliery there was plenty of craters and holes to fill so naturally the park lends itself well to a pond trail.
Head to the front entrance of the park to start this trail from the information board.
Rothwell Country Park Trim Trail
The park has an outdoor fitness circuit that includes pull up bars; parallel bars; push up bars; and balance beams. This type of exercise is called ‘calisthenics’ and focuses on using the body’s weight to work out – no weights needed!
Head to the information board at the entrance to pinpoint exactly where the trim trail starts.
As walks go the sculpture trail at Rothwell Country Park is up there when it comes to a mind and body exercise. The route is well signposted but the spontaneous stone, willow and metal installations that jump out at you amongst the shrub become your mystic guides. Some of the visual highlights included: the sundial; tribute to Easter island; the enigma; snail and owl; and the aptly named two cheeky ladies. We probably missed a few too so keep your eyes peeled!
What we – and many other Leeds folk – like is this park is shielded from the immediate sights of urban inner city living. Yet, the sculpture walk will take you to a bit of a visual peak. Atop of the old mining site is a summit (small in number at 40 metre above) that breaks out into city skyline views of Leeds. It’s a pretty vast and substantial view, and one that suddenly brings you back to reality… you’re still only 6-miles from Leeds city!
Trans Pennine Trail
Next to the river Aire, and running alongside it, is the famous Transpennine trail. It’s an exciting route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders linking the north of England from coast to coast. The Leeds route starts at the Royal Armouries in the centre of Leeds and works it’s way south past Rothwell Country Park and onto Wakefield. Plan your route over at the Trans Pennine Trail website.
With the abundance of trails and routes zig zagging all over and beyond Rothwell Country Park we can’t recommend this green space enough for a run. The River Aire and Trans Pennine Trail give you the option to extend your run for a significant distance, or take it easy and run one one of the shorter routes above.
One route we would very much recommend is the Temple Newsam to Rothwell Country Park run route. It starts at Temple Newsam, and explores Skelton Country Park and Rothwell Country park. 12km of trail run goodness!
The Rothwell Country Park and canal mountain biking loop is just shy of 14 miles with a total ascent of 472 feet and a descent of 470 feet. This is a moderately difficult mountain bike route. Get this route over at the viewranger website.
Walking the Dog
It’s a great space to go dog walking with a mix of green open spaces and concealed trails you can get lost on, but we advise you keep your dog on a lead.
Since the mining days the landscape at Rothwell Country Park has become more fitting of its current name. Part of the colliery reclamation is to take back the natural land from decades of mining. The park is now home to wildflower meadows that include species such as common spotted orchid, bee orchid, ox-eye daisy, and birds foot trefoil.
Rothwell Country Park is an abundance of wildlife. On any day (or night!) you might spot any of these mammals – hedgehog, rabbit, bats, red deer and fallow deer. Or up in the sky soaring around there could be a jay, woodpecker, goldfinch, swallow, swift, moorhen, coot, heron, lark, skylark, linnet, cuckoo, yellow hammer, reed bunting, willow tit, and dunnock. And the ponds are home to the common frog and toad, smooth newt, and dragonfly chasers. The water is where the insects, butterflies and moths thrive. A variety of butterflies including the tortoiseshell, skipper and peacock have been spotted in the past.
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Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Pond Dipping
The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are big on putting on family events. Called a ‘Bioblitz’ this open access event loves a pond dipping session with the little ones. It’s a great way to sample wildlife up close and personal. Keep an eye on the Friends of Rothwell page for the next event.
Rothwell Country Park Orienteering
If you like a challenge on your walk then you’ll love the British Orienteering race event series, every year one of the events are held at Rothwell Country Park. Keep an eye on the ‘airienteers’ events page for the next date.
The name ‘Rothwell’ is found in many places. Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and here in Leeds. It stems from the Old English words roð(u) ‘clearing’ and well(a) ‘spring’ or ‘stream’. I.e. the place with a clearing and stream. Maybe relating to Rothwell Beck and Rothwell Pastures.
Until 1983 Rothwell Country Park was a full working colliery. Rothwell Colliery or the ‘Fanny’ and ‘ Rose’ pit named after the pit owners daughters. After its demise the area became a visible eyesore, a post-industrial wasteland. In the mid-1990s people at Leeds City Council and the charity Groundwork Leeds started to form a partnership to transform the area. It took 5-years of extensive landscaping to carefully reprofile the landscape, creating woodlands, wetlands and meadows.
At the turn of the millennium local Countdown hero Richard Whiteley open the park to local visitors. And since then Leeds City Council has maintained, in partnership with volunteer groups like the Friends of…, and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, this beautiful green space in the Lower Aire Valley.
The nearest toilet is located at the Two Pointers pub in Woodlesford. It’s a good 25-minute walk on foot from the parking spot on Bullough Lane.
Food and Drink
With such a good selection of walks at Rothwell Country Park we’re certain that you’re going to need to recoup your energy with some tasty food and thirst quenching drinks.
A 25-minute walk east of the centre of the park is the Two Pointers pub, it’s one of those pubs that’s got a bit of old school charm with a modern edge having recently being refurbished. Food – British pub grub style – is served all day and evening, indoors and outdoors with heating.
If you travel south from Rothwell Country Park for 20-minutes you will find yourself in the centre of Rothwell. There’s a little cluster of eateries and bars near Springhead Park. Our pick of these is Salute Leeds – think carefully crafted Italian dishes that deliver an authentic taste experience.
Great Place for a Picnic
We love Rothwell Country Park for a picnic because it’s got so many trails to get lost on. You might end up in a meadow, or next to a pond, or on top of the world looking over Leeds. At all of these different spots is the perfect opportunity to have a a quiet picnic.
Free roadside parking is available on Bullough Lane, postcode: LS26 0JY (Google Map Directions)
Rothwell Country Park is an open access park with no steps, gates or stiles to negotiate. The paths and trails that crisscross the green space are in part suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Be mindful that if you go off the main paths onto the trails you’re likely to come across narrower and more uneven routes.
How to Get To Rothwell Country Park
You can catch a regular train service – 8 minutes approx. – from Leeds to Woodlesford on the half hour every day. Once at Woodlesford it’s a mile walk to the centre of Rothwell Country Park.
Regular buses – 167 & 168 Sapphire – run between Leeds and Rothwell, stopping on Leeds Road every 30-minutes. It’s a couple of minutes walk down Third Avenue to access the country park from here.
On the M1 south take Junction 44, and turn left onto Leeds Road going south to Castleford. Follow this road to Rothwell and take a left onto First Avenue. The park is at the end of the road. Free roadside parking is available on Bullough Lane, postcode: LS26 0JY (Google Map Directions)
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