Woodhouse Moor or ‘Hyde Park’ as it is commonly referred to, was the city’s first ever urban park. Originally coined by the Victorians as “the lungs of Leeds”, it was heralded as a pocket of clean air in contrast to the smoky industrial south of the city.
Today, the park boasts a wide variety of physical activity opportunities for individuals and groups.
Take a look around
Things to Note
Woodhouse Moor (Hyde Park) has the following on-site or nearby:
- Dog Waste Bins
- Nearby Food & Drink
- Nearby Toilets
- Pushchair Access
- Rubbish Bins
- Wheelchair Access
Woodhouse Moor is a green space split into three sections, located exactly one mile from Leeds city centre. The park is the second most popular in the city with over three million people visiting last year. The A660 (Woodhouse Lane) splits the park into two distinct areas; to the west of the road is the 26 hectares that encompasses the five connected walking paths; parallel to this on the east side is the Upper Monument and Lower Cinder which acts as spill out spaces for the larger scale sport and entertainment events.
The park borders four inner city areas – Woodhouse, Hyde Park, Headingley and Burley – and sits on the doorstep of the city’s large student population. Three of the largest college and university campuses are a short walk away in the direction of the city centre. The location of the park has great city viewing potential but due to the “Yorkshire flat” terrain – strangely there isn’t a hill in sight! – it’s not one for the landscape photographer.
Things to Do
If you’re a novice walker then the Hyde Park loop is a perfect starting place to get going. For a seasoned walker, the statue of H.R Marsden marks the southern starting point of the Meanwood valley trail – a seven mile waymarked footpath celebrated as the “green artery” bringing rural countryside into the heart of the city. If you like your movement on two feet a little faster then the Saturday morning parkrun is a free social run that tests yourself over 5 kilometres. All abilities are welcome, including run-walkers!
For tennis fans Woodhouse Moor has 6 hard courts which are free to access throughout the year! The courts are fully accessible to anyone wanting to play tennis including full time wheelchair users. Community bookings can be made through the Lawn Tennis Association and Leeds City Council online.
Adjoined to the Tennis courts are the 92 growing allotments that were reintroduced in 1940 as part of the “dig for victory” campaign to ease the pressure on food rationing during the Second World War. The rationing was temporary but the allotments have become a mainstay. Leeds residents can apply for an allotment plot through Leeds City Council parks and countryside department.
To the north of the park you will find the skatepark. This was built in the early noughties in response to complaints of skaters: “damaging some of the finest buildings in [Millenium Square] Leeds” – some of the stone steps were getting chipped, hardly criminal! For inner city skaters and BMXers this park has become a safe haven to hone their skills. It is very much a standard back and forth based skatepark but it is split into three main well spaced out sections.
In the same vicinity as the Skatepark there are several play spaces for children and young people. A variety of ball sports can be played on the MUGA (multi use games area) in all weathers. While the little ones can burn off some energy in the playground.
First established in 1996 as a response to local riots, Hyde Park Unity Day has since become an annual event showcasing the talent and culture of the local community through the means of music, art, sport, dance, food and drink. Unity Day continues to play a key role in promoting community values and cohesion in Hyde Park. Keep a tab on their Facebook page for the early summer event date.
Woodhouse Moor was acquired as a result of what we now know as the Victorian “urban parks movement”, an attempt by social reformers of the time to provide a means of escape from urban squalor. Woodhouse Moor was the city’s very first park after it was purchased by Lords of the Manor in 1857 for £3000.
Disease and infection has changed the usage and exterior of the park over the last 400 years. The 1644 plague drew city residents away from the centre of the outbreak, to hastily built cabins on Woodhouse Moor. In 1837 a reservoir was built in the park to contain a Cholera epidemic. This was covered over in 1863 due to repeated tragedies at the site; the only link left to this is the stone cottage dwelling behind the gardeners cottage, near the Queen Victoria monument.
Woodhouse Moor was built with its own speakers corner. A place where crowds would gather to hear public speakers, on specially built platforms – a replica of London’s very own Hyde Park corner. The politicisation of the park has become less vocal and more institutionalised with a selection of stone statues celebrating monarchs and politicians of old. Less visible and hidden below the surface is an abandoned air raid shelter, built on the eve of war with Germany to protect local residents from aerial bombardment.
Parking is available on the residential streets surrounding Woodhouse Moor; Moorland and Clarendon Road offer free on street parking but be sure to double check the free parking time limits.
For those looking for a park to walk their four legged friends. One Woodhouse Moor dog walker commented: “The Woodhouse Lane playing fields in Hyde Park are great if your dog wants a good run around and a play. Big open space and dog-friendly.”
There are plenty of bins, for both general and dog waste.
Food and Drink
The northern and southern corners of the park are entry points to a treasure trove of local business, eateries and watering holes. At the northern end, on Woodhouse Lane, you could eat out all day. Breakfast or brunch at LS6 cafe; followed by a vegan lunch at Hyde Park Book Club; finished with something a little more meaty for dinner at Oranaise. For those that want a quick takeaway we recommend walking north east of the park down Woodhouse Street; you’ll stumble across 6 takeaways in under half a kilometre.
To wash the grub down our choice pubs can be found at the top and bottom of Woodhouse Lane – ideal options if you’re not in the middle of the park when the thirst begins to bite. At the top is the Hyde Park pub, a cornerstone of the local area and one of the most iconic pubs in Leeds. It’s been there for over a century and continues to bring people together over a well-poured pint to this day. At the bottom is The Library, an impressive pub exterior that also packs a punch with quality food, drink and entertainment inside – the Lending Room hosts live music and comedy for just a few quid entry. Both pubs form part of the infamous Otley Run.
Woodhouse Moor is accessible across most of the park for both wheelchairs and pushchairs. Paths are well maintained. The grassy areas are a mix of flat and slope. In some areas the grass is well maintained, in others not so much. Care should be taken if visiting after rain.