Woodhouse Ridge (or “The Ridge” as it’s commonly known), is a long green corridor (around 2.5 kilometres) of mainly native woodland totalling 7 hectares. This woods brings you immediately closer to nature, in complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of Headingley and Meanwood either side. It’s really a little island of green paradise amongst the city’s concrete.
Take a look around
Things to Note
Woodhouse Ridge has the following on-site or nearby:
- Disabled Access
- Dog Waste Bins
- Nearby Food & Drink
- Nearby Parking
- Nearby Toilets
- Pushchair Access
- Rubbish Bins
Woodhouse Ridge runs between Ridge Road in Woodhouse and Grove Lane in Headingley. It makes up part of the Meanwood Valley Local Nature Reserve.
Mounting the northern edge of Headingley Hill, it descends steeply from the Hill down into Meanwood Valley joining the water ways of the Meanwood Beck. It’s location is unique because it gives you a pretty impressive landscape view along and across the Meanwood Valley.
Things to Do
Volunteer with the Woodhouse Ridge Action Group
The WRAG (Woodhouse Ridge Action Group) are a great bunch of volunteers that have been supporting the advancement of the Ridge since they started in 1995. The main work of this group is to carry out practical conservation on the paths and flora. When they’ve finished getting their hands dirty they always get together over a BBQ lunch. Join one of the WRAG ‘action days’ on the last Sunday of every month.
Volunteer with the NHPNA
The North Hyde Park Neighbourhood Association was set up by local residents to maintain and improve the quality of life in our area. Their reach covers Dagmar Wood, Woodhouse Moor and Woodhouse Ridge. Why not get involved with the work that they carry out, and become a member.
Walking routes on the Ridge include a top and bottom tier that take in both perspectives of the Ridge. In-between these two routes are smaller less trodden trails that traverse the top and bottom, and some interesting sets of steps that have been around since the Victorian days. The top tier offers the easiest route for those with mobility needs, including wheelchairs and buggies. Our pick is this circular walk that takes in Woodhouse Ridge and the opposing Sugarwell Hill; clocking 1.6 miles. You will have to cross Meanwood Road so please be careful.
The Ridge is steeped in history from its Victorian and Edwardian influences. Originally you would of have taken in a view of a manicured public park. Cut back to reveal paths linking communities and workplaces. And elaborate shelters and performance spots like the bandstand. You can retrace all of this history following the Heritage Trail.
Meanwood Valley Trail
The Meanwood Valley Trail is a 7 mile long trail that plots from Woodhouse Moor (Hyde Park) to Golden Acre Park. It’s all right of way foot paths through urban areas, over roads, into parkland and woodland. Woodhouse Ridge is the second destination after starting it on Woodhouse Moor. You can follow the full Meanwood Valley Trail route here.
The Dales Way
The Dales Way is a footpath that encompasses 80 miles of Yorkshire and Cumbria. What’s amazing about this walk is you will stay in woods and parkland for the entirety of it, from Leeds – crossing the Ridge – through to Ilkley, into the Yorkshire Dales, and onto an arrival at Bowness in Windermere.
The interconnecting trails that go up and down the Ridge make this a great spot for a little trail run – no more than 5k if you use the route creatively. There’s even steps in and amongst the paths to add something a little extra to your run. One route that takes in the long stretch along Woodhouse Ridge is this 5km Woodhouse Ridge Headingley Run Loop – a great one for a mix of woods and path!
This mountain bike route, courtesy of trail forks, runs directly through the Ridge and is ideal for a novice getting in mountain biking. There is around 34 metres of climb and it takes on average 2-hours for each rider to complete it.
The ridge takes in both woodland and some open grass areas with mature trees scattered amongst the latter. As a result, in the height of summer you’ll find plenty of picnic spots with a good covering of shade.
Despite its small size there’s plenty of wildlife rustling about throughout the Ridge. Keep your eyes trained for the tell tale signs of king fisher and toads by the Beck at the bottom; owls, woodpeckers and bats fluttering around the tree line at the top; and roe deer and hedgehogs moving on all fours.
Woodhouse Ridge is a popular spot for dog walkers. Let your four legged friends stretch their legs. You will need to hold on to any poo bags thought as there are not many bins about.
To the west of the Ridge is Batty’s Wood which has been identified as a semi-natural wood. In recent decades its turned more into a woodland proper with beautiful flowerings of bluebell and wild garlic popping up every spring.
The WRAG (Woodhouse Ridge Action Group) have been gradually building a wild orchard’ at the bottom of the Ridge since 2014. The aim is to restore the bottom meadow, directly below Cardboard Hill. They are doing this by reintroducing wild flowers and planting fruit and nut trees suitable for the soil.
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Woodhouse Ridge Festival
Woodhouse Ridge Festival is a family fun day in the woods that includes bike propelled music; arts; ale; food; walks; and kids activities. It takes place every summer. Keep an eye on the Hyde Park Source Facebook page for event updates.
Woodhouse Ridge Orienteering
If you like walking with a challenge and purpose, a British Orienteering race event series holds one of their events on the Ridge every year. Keep an eye on the ‘airienteers’ events web page for the next date.
The Ridge started life as an open moorland before becoming a public park in 1870 under the directive and drive of the Victorians, who believed outdoor spaces like the Ridge were important and health giving amid the squalor and poverty of the industrial revolution.
When the Edwardians got hold of it a few decades later they gave it a real overhaul, adding ornamental shelters; drinking fountains that represented the importance of having a source of clean water; regal benches and a beautiful band stand that was the centre piece of entertainment on the ridge. Headingley Leeds have compiled a fantastic selection of old photos that bring this history to life, check them out over on their website.
The ornamental shelters were elaborate constructions that elevated the eyeline to take in the wide open expanse across the valley. And they were top spots to shelter from the wind and rain. Now, you can only see the foundations and retaining walls left of these.
Woods Mill was one of a few mills built alongside the Beck, a perfect funnel of water and energy for the industrial workings that kept the cogs of advancement and progress turning. As early at the 1600s Woods Mill was producing corn.
Hidden away in private land is the grade 2 listed packhorse bridge that was key in linking trade between Meanwood and Headingley/Kirkstall. The WRAG group are hoping to bring this back into public hands as a restoration project in the future.
Air Raid Shelter
Nestled in and amongst the undergrowth is the entrance to a World War Two air raid shelter. It still looks like it’s in pretty good condition inside, but it only goes so far before you come to a dead end. Please be careful if you set out on an adventure of this, like this explorer.
The closest toilet nearby to the entrance of the Ridge on Ridge Road is across Meanwood Road at the Barn Coffee Shop on Meanwood Valley Farm. With the Beck stream running wild at the bottom of the Ridge, it makes for an ideal place to walk your dog on a hot day under the cover of trees and with access to water, your pooch should stay cool and well hydrated.
Food and Drink
Once you’ve enjoyed your visit to Woodhouse Ridge there’s plenty of options to stop and refuel either side of the park. If you head back down to Meanwood Road you can cross over into Meanwood Valley Farm to take advantage of the The Barn Coffee Shop. They’re all about serving you quality coffee and sandwiches while connecting you to the local community – it’s a lovely atmosphere inside!
Walking the Woodhouse way towards Melville Road you’ll see a firm local favourite, The Chemic Tavern – pulling pints before the Victorians were frolicking on the ridge this warm and cosy pub will grease the wheels while bringing back some of that bandstand spirit with open mic and jazz nights a regular feature.
Once you’ve stretched your legs and had a few drinks you might want to finish your day or evening with some good old fashioned fish and chips from Arkwright’s – a chippy right next door to the Chemic. And if you’ve been adventurous you’ve probably had a coffee on a farm, went for a drink with some friends, shuffled to some live music, and now you’ve got a bag a chips in your hand… happy days!
Park for free on Ridge Road. And then follow the footpath into the ridge.
- Park for free on Ridge Road, postcode: LS7 2JD (Google Map Directions)
Woodhouse Ridge has disabled access but expect some routes within it to be navigated by sets of stone steps and for these paths to be muddy on wet weather days.
How to Get To Woodhouse Ridge
A taxi will take you just shy of 10-minutes to get from Leeds City Centre to the entrance of Woodhouse Ridge on Ridge Road.
First Bus Leeds 51/52 are running a 20-minute direct service to Meanwood Road (adjacent to the Ridge Road entrance) from the Headrow in the city centre.
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